Our Liberal Arts Are Everywhere

The spirit of the liberal arts runs strong at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. So strong, in fact, that it regularly makes its way into the lives of students in majors like nursing or global business leadership. The narrative practice minor is a great example. The narrative practice minor (within the English department) gives pre-professional students training in close-reading creative writing to engage in experiential learning aligned with their future professions. For many, the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) at St. Cloud Hospital is their first chance to put that training into action.

“This fall (2023) we have around 59 student volunteers working with HELP,” explained visiting assistant professor Chris Bolin, whose ENGL 111 course (Introduction to Narrative Practice) is the gateway to the program. “Students spend time rounding on patients, offering mental and social stimulation to prevent the onset of delirium in admitted patients. They engage in meaningful conversation with patients and also initiate creative-writing sessions, when and if their patients show interest.

“The class basically looks at all the different ways in which future clinicians can use narrative, the skills of creative writing and close reading, to benefit their future clinical practices,” Bolin said. “A huge part of that is the ability to actually practice these creative writing skills with clinical populations.”

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