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March 31, 2021

How Poetry Helps This Doctor Communicate with Patients Better

Ask students: What are some of the ways art might help those with illness? When and where does Dr. Fady Joudah use art in his practice?


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Dr. Fady Joudah, Physician-Poet

Read the summary, watch the CANVAS video and answer the discussion questions. For a transcript of the video, click here

As a part of NewsHour’s Arts and Culture series, CANVAS, Jeffrey Brown takes a look at the intersection of the alchemy of health and art with his profile of Dr. Fady Joudah, the physician-poet — or perhaps poet-physician.

  • Dr. Fady Joudah grew up in Texas and the Middle East as a refugee from Palestine. He says his experiences growing up spurred his sense of empathy, or caring for others.
  • Dr. Joudah believes that poetry helps him communicate as a doctor and also that art can help patients overcome loneliness in the hospital.

Discussion Questions: Dr. Fady Joudah and Art as Medicine

  1. Who is this story about?
  2. What are some of the ways art might help those with illness?
  3. When and Where does the doctor in this piece use art in his practice?
  4. Why are patients in hospitals especially in need of art and inspiration at the moment?
  5. How can art help with other challenges aside from illness?

Focus Questions: How Does Art Complement Medicine?

  1. Why do you think art helps Dr. Joudah in his practice?
  2. How do you think art might help his patients? What do you think are some other ways art can help people overcome personal challenges?

Media Literacy: What data do you think could be added to this piece to help viewers better assess the connection between art and health?

Additional Resources

  • Poet Amanda Gorman became famous after delivering a poem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. But she has also written an elegy (poem of mourning) for COVID victims. You can read more about that here and discuss the ways her poetry might help some cope with loss and change.
  • Can art also help overcome trauma? Discuss in this EXTRA lesson.
  • Want to help members of your community get registered for a vaccination? Use this full lesson or this guide to explore how to get vaccinated in your own community.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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