Fiction as Didactic Tool for Developing Emotional Professional Skills in Medical Education

a group of medical students sit around a table and discuss.

What happens when reading fiction literature is included in Medical Education? We record fiction book seminars with future physicians and examine how empathy is construed in the conversations and how fictions literature is used in medical education. 

It is known that medical students experience empathy decline during their training. This has placed focus on fiction as a valuable tool for combatting this decline and fostering emotional professional skills, which are central for professional development.

An open book. Photo credit morgan23

Contribute knowledge how fiction helps develop emotional professional skills

The aim of the proposed project is to contribute theoretical and practical knowledge of how fiction seminars help to develop emotional professional skills in medical students.

The research questions are empirically driven:

  1. To examine how empathy is co-constructed as a professional skill in fiction seminars.
  2. To propose interactional strategies through which empathy as a professional skill can be supported and encouraged within fiction seminars.

Recording fiction seminars in medical education

About 85 hours of fiction seminars in medical education at three universities will be recorded. During Year 1-2 of the project, data will be collected, transcribed, and analysed. Years 3-4 will involve transcription, data analysis, writing up the findings, participate in conferences and in dissemination events. The project uses the theoretical and analytical approach of discursive psychology, which is fruitful for investigating social interaction in educational contexts. The findings will contribute to how fiction as a didactic tool can be developed by medical schools. The project will generate new fundamental queries and it contribute to theoretical and practical knowledge in literature studies and in professional education research.

Financed by Grant from Swedish Research Council (registration number 2022-03430).
Approval by the Swedish Ethical Review Authority (registration number 2023-02097-01).


Cover of publication ''
Anja Rydén Gramner, Sally Wiggins (2020)

Discursive psychology and embodiment: beyond subject-object binaries , s.221-245 Continue to DOI