The Family Centered Experience 2009—2010 (Part 1 of 2)

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Due to my procrastination in writing about the University of Michigan’s Family Centered Experience (FCE) program for my blog this week, I don’t yet have access to some of the media from last week’s FCE Interpretive Projects Presentation for this past year. I’ve requested some files from the program administrator, and I hope that over the next few days I’ll receive some of the pictures and possibly some video to share with you from that presentation.

FCE? OK, briefly:

The Family Centered Experience (FCE) program is a required course in the University of Michigan Medical School curriculum. Through FCE, first- and second-year students engage in understanding the personal side of medicine through firsthand encounters with patients and their families.

Now, longtime Lagergren Blog devotees will recall I’ve written about the Family Centered Experience before, and if you’re “FCE burned out,” so be it. If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m talking about when I talk about FCE despite my brief intro, click on the link in the first paragraph and enjoy the browse.

So, why bother with all of this info about the FCE? Because it’s a great program, and I don’t think you could or should be bored with it. Those of us with chronic illness, we deal with doctors all too frequently. Some of them are good doctors, and some are poor. Some can’t deal with us despite their brilliance, their wonderful degrees, their recognition among their colleagues. It actually begs the question, at least from our point of view, “What is a good doctor?”

But it’s comforting to know that programs such as the FCE exist, and that they’re gaining more and more recognition. In fact, from what I heard at last week’s presentation from the FCE director, it does appear that Michigan’s program is getting both national and international attention, more and more each year.

I don’t want to assume everyone reading my blog was reading it two and a half years ago. My first year participating in the program was 2007, and I wrote three blog entries about what it was like to be a part of FCE. Here’s one entry from the past; here’s another; and here’s a third.

Last week during the reception at the FCE presentation, one of the medical students we worked with asked me if I thought the projects captured any of what I felt as a person with chronic illness. Or, more generally (I guess), what was my reaction to the projects. It put me on the spot, and not in a bad way. It’s just that it’s difficult to say how I feel. Disease, or illness, is such a tough thing to talk about or write about effectively. Oh, it can be done, and has been done, but to do it well is a tall order, and so I’m hoping to spend some time exploring my reaction to my medical student’s question over the next week or so.

This week let me take you back to some earlier FCE Interpretive Projects Presentations. This week and next, take time to look at the pictures and video I’ve linked to, as well as what’s available on the FCE Web site. What are your reactions?

Do I hear crickets? Is that you moving on to the next blog in your daily Web browsing? OK, fine. But for those of you who don’t often post comments, any thoughts? What about a program such as this? What about these projects? I don’t think it’s only a “you had to be there” kind of thing.

Oh, and before I present a few of the interpretive projects from years past (taken from the FCE Web site, by the way, where you can see more), allow me to share one of my favorites, “It Turned Everything Upside Down,” which I’ve blogged about in the past. Don’t watch it from my old blog about it — that link has lost its sound. Watch it here.

Now, on to some other presentations (along with the artists’ descriptions thereof)!

Coping with Adversity
Natalie Clark and Kerry Baum

Coping With Adversity

This origami sculpture is a facsimile of a vase of flowers, a symbol of hope and cheer. It is constructed from medical supply catalogs, assorted hospital paperwork, and images.

The Face of Illness
Alexis Carulli, Luke Li, and Sadhana Nayak-Young

The Face of Illness

We took a portrait from the Web site “Face of Berlin,” divided the picture into eleven pieces and resized the pieces. When viewed from a certain perspective, the pieces come together to re-form an identifiable face. A common theme from our families is their hope that health care professionals will appreciate them as a whole person, not just a collection of isolated physical symptoms.

Portrait of Diabetes (video)
Sean Ewing and Ashwin Ram

Portrait of Diabetes

Click on this link to view the video of the students’ explanation of their project.

Kaleidoscopia’s Mr. E
Amy Li, Benjamin Mervak, Anita Ravi, and Allison Wessel

Kaleidoscopias Mr E

Our children’s book is centered around four characters, each with a disability, but more importantly, a talent that helps themselves and others feel better. We address the themes of optimism, invisible illness, and redefining oneself in terms of abilities rather than disabilities.

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