Pursuit of Life: How Literature Enhances Healthcare


The Pursuit of Life: How Literature Enhances Healthcare

Faculty, healthcare professionals, students, and clergy are invited to attend Pursuit of Life: How Great Literature Enhances Healthcare. This symposium highlights the latest in academic palliative care research, teaching, and practice with a focus on the intersection of healthcare and the humanities.

Schedule of Events:

8:00 AM - 9:00 Reading Clinicians: Reading Patients
Grand Rounds at Baylor University Medical Center | 17 Roberts, Davis Auditorium
(In-Person or Online)

Dr. Kathryn Kirkland speaks to Baylor Scott and White team members about the intersection of palliative care and the humanities.

12:00 PM - 1:30 SMU Luncheon
at SMU's Prothro Great Hall | Pre-Registration Required

Engage nationally renowned physician Kathy Kirkland in a lunchtime workshop illustrating how poetry enhances the lives of patients and healthcare personnel alike. Listen to SMU doctoral student Lindsey Johnson Edwards reflect on a lifetime of experiences as a patient.

Learn as well about the trailblazing new book, The Pursuit of Life: The Promise and Challenge of Palliative Care, edited by Robert Fine and Jack Levison, with SMU doctoral candidate Kelsey Spinnato.


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kathryn Kirkland 

Kathryn B. Kirkland, MD, a professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, with a secondary appointment at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, serves as chief of the section of palliative medicine.  She holds the Dorothy and John J. Byrne, Jr, Distinguished Chair in Palliative Medicine. In addition to her leadership role, she is actively engaged in clinical work with patients who are facing serious illness, and in teaching medical students, residents and fellows.  

Her primary scholarly interest is in the field of narrative medicine, which focuses on building capacity of clinicians to receive the stories of others, and to use them to ensure that patients receive individualized healthcare that is aligned with their values. She has received grant support from the Mellon and the Gold Foundations for work in medical humanities. 

For the first 20 years of her professional career, Kirkland was an infectious disease specialist and healthcare epidemiologist at Dartmouth and at Duke.  She has served as vice chair for quality in the department of medicine and as a coach and associate program director for leadership development in the innovative Leadership Preventive Medicine Residency program at Dartmouth.

Kirkland holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College and an MD from Dartmouth Medical School.

Sponsored by:

SMU Perkins School of Theology

SMU Cary M. Maguire Ethics Center

SMU DCII Scott Hawkins Fund

SMU Graduate Program in Religious Studies

Bridwell Library

Perkins Office of External Programs

Baylor Scott and White Supportive and Palliative Care