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Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care® is a program of the Maine Humanities Council in collaboration with the humanities councils of
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Lizz Sinclair
Victoria Bonebakker

(si'-naps', si-naps') noun

A specialized junction where transmission of information takes place between a nerve fibre and another nerve cell, or between a nerve fibre and a muscle or gland cell.

[New Latin synapsis, from Greek, juncture, from synaptein to fasten together, from syn- + haptein to fasten]

Submission Info
We invite your thoughts, questions, ideas and column submissions!

for submissions
for the next
issue of Synapse:
October 5, 2009

The Next Chapter: Literature & Medicine
Welcomes VA Hospitals

::: feature article ::: read more
With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Literature & Medicine is being offered to the staff at 15 Veterans Administration hospitals and health care facilities hospitals across the country through partnerships with state humanities councils. Pilot programs in Maine and Vermont VA hospitals demonstrate that the impact of Literature & Medicine is very significant for participants from VA facilities, where work and stress loads have been both changed and increased by the influx of severely wounded soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq, and where their patients often face particularly severe physical and physic wounds.

Special Announcements
::: special announcements ::: read more
Literature & Medicine Training Institute ::: Echoes of War—Our Latest Literature and Medicine Anthology ::: Literature & Medicine Evaluation Results ::: Remembering Marli Weiner ::: Welcome to California, Nevada, New York, South Dakota & Argentina! Learn everything you need to know to launch a successful L&M program at the 5th Literature & Medicine Training Institute in Chicago, June 25-28, 2009

Echoes of War

From the Inside Out
::: authors speak about their work ::: read more
Facilitating for the Literature & Medicine group at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at White River Junction, Vermont for five years made Suzanne Brown well poised to edit Literature & Medicine’s new anthology, Echoes of War. Read about some of the pieces she selected and the important issues they raise related to caring for veterans—as well as other patients.

Success in bridging the gap between the sick and the well, between veterans and those who haven’t “been there,” may also depend on acknowledging limits; literature may be our best means to get outside our own skins, but it simultaneously makes us understand and respect the power of experiences we cannot fully know.

Isabel del Valle Isabel del Valle

Eye Witness: Literature & Medicine in Argentina
::: reflections from seminar participants ::: read more

Isabel del Valle, Ph.D., attended the 2008 Literature & Medicine Training Institute and left eager to start a similar program in her home country of Argentina. She had long wanted to combine the humanities with medicine, and thinks that she may now have found a way to do so.

Dan & Deb Hamilton Dan & Deb Hamilton

From the Hospital
::: a forum for Literature & Medicine liaisons ::: read more

As more health care professionals in Veterans Administration hospitals become involved in Literature & Medicine, it is a good time to speak with two participants from the very first L&M program at a VA Hospital. Dan Hamilton, a Physician Assistant, and Deb Hamilton, a Home Health and Hospice nurse, have participated in the program at the VA Medical Center in Togus, Maine for nine years.

This program fosters communication and helps us feel less isolated…anytime an employee feels valued by an employer, the employer wins. It is good to see that our work is appreciated, that we are being supported. This is a way to value employees. Veterans are a specialized population requiring expertise to care for them. Any way that we can work together and better understand our roles can only improve patient care.

  • What would you like to see in future editions?
  • If you are in a Literature & Medicine program, would you be interested in contributing to a column?

Please send your feedback to Synapse editor Lizz Sinclair

Subscribe to Synapse, the e-magazine of Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care®. Synapse provides a forum for our Literature & Medicine community to share information, stories, questions, ideas, and suggestions. Synapse is published by the Maine Humanities Council twice a year through the Harriet P. Henry Center for the Book. The National Endowment for the Humanities has provided major funding for Literature & Medicine. To read previous issues of Synapse, please see the archives.


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Literature & Medicine has received major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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