UNE hosts inaugural Health Care Story Slam – University of New England

On April 13, the University of New England, in collaboration with Southern Maine Health Care (SMHC), brought together members of the health care community to share their stories in an emotional and impactful evening of storytelling.
The theme of the event was adaptability. Two members of the SHMC critical care unit, along with UNE students, faculty, and staff, shared their personal stories and offered many different perspectives on healthcare during personal presentations.
Storytelling is an important communication skill. Providing a place for frontline health care workers to tell stories, alongside students and faculty, is an innovative way to share what it means to be adaptable in health care.
The Health Care Story Slam was organized by Shaw Innovation Fellows Chris Barr (Nursing, ’22), Jackson Schuyler (Political Science, ’24), and Theresa Orlandella (Medical Biology, ’23).
Barr kicked off the evening by discussing his own personal journey into health care. Originally an engineer, Barr decided to pursue a career in nursing after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
“Two years ago, I got into a mountain biking accident and I was in the hospital for months,” Barr explained. “The health care professionals that I had experiences with were absolutely phenomenal and they made a difference for me.”
Hannah Akre (D.O., ’23) shared her story of spending Saturdays during her second year of medical school with a patient who has Alzheimer’s. When the patient asked her to pray with him, Akre felt uncomfortable and did not know how to react. She then sought advice on how to handle such a request.
“I had a whole week to mull it over and to reach out to mentors to help me figure out what to do when we met again,” she stated. “We don’t often get to do something over in life, so when he asked the next time, I embraced the opportunity. I could see how important it was for his care. That changed how I approach patients. Now, I welcome the opportunity to include spirituality or prayer as part of a patient’s healing, regardless of my own standpoint.”
Shelly Snow, clinical chaplain for the special care unit at SMHC, discussed her experiences providing spiritual care at the hospital for patients and their families.
UNE alum Scott Morin, D.O., ’02, a critical care medicine specialist at SMHC, discussed controlling his feelings of anger during the height of the pandemic. He told the crowd when severe illness is preventable with a vaccine, it is easy to become angry at those who refuse it.  
“I found myself coming to work angry,” he said. “Anger is a dangerous emotion, especially for a medical provider. I learned it is not my job to judge. It is my job to love each individual patient and be part of a team that will make them better.”
Support for the evening was provided by the Shaw Innovation Fellows. David Evans Shaw, CEO of the Blackpoint Group, funded the students who designed and executed the event. Without his support, the inaugural event would not have been possible.
Chris Barr
Hannah Akre
Scott Morin
About the University of New England
The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university, with two beautiful coastal campuses in Maine, a one-of-a-kind study abroad campus in Tangier, Morocco, and an array of flexible, accredited online degrees. In an uncommonly welcoming and supportive community, we offer hands-on learning, empowering students to make a positive impact in a world full of challenges. The state’s top provider of health professionals, we are home to Maine’s only medical college, Maine’s only dental college, a variety of other interprofessionally aligned health care degree programs, as well as nationally recognized programs for marine science degrees, natural and social sciences degrees, arts and humanities degrees, and business degrees.
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