Pharma Professional Turns to Drew’s Medical and Health Humanities Program to Enhance Patient Narrative Knowledge

“Both diagnostic and narrative medicine are needed to provide a complete picture of a patient’s medical condition”

June 2022 – Kevin Poirier G’23 has had a long standing career in the pharmaceutical industry. Understanding the critical importance of the patient narrative, he wanted to be able to look beyond solely relieving symptoms to achieve holistic medical patient care.

Humanizing medicine and care is the mission of the Medical and Health Humanities program at Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Naturally, Drew was the perfect fit for Poirier to start his journey as a Doctor of Medical and Health Humanities student.

The curriculum integrates academic inquiry and professional experience to prepare students for careers throughout the healthcare industry and beyond. 

We sat down with Poirier to learn more about how the Medical and Health Humanities program will help him round his experience in clinical investigative patient care by gaining knowledge in the patient narrative.

Kevin Poirier G’23
Data Sharing Portfolio Officer | Novartis Pharmaceuticals | East Hanover, New Jersey

Why did you choose Drew’s Medical and Health Humanities program?
I chose Drew’s Medical and Health Humanities program after meeting with the program director. I was interested in the patient side of medicine and a major part of the program is learning the importance of the patient narrative. The patient narrative gives a more complete and often lifesaving illumination of a medical issue. The opposite is diagnostic medicine. This practice uses current technology to diagnose a medical issue but is not personal and leaves out the important story of the patient. Both diagnostic and narrative medicine are needed to provide a complete picture of a patient’s medical condition.

How will you apply the learnings from the program to your position in the pharmaceutical industry?
As a long standing member of the pharmaceutical industry, 32 years at Novartis and three years at Merck, it has become more apparent that the patient’s story and a patient’s quality of life are just as important as relieving the symptoms of disease or an actual cure. The patient narrative helps the clinical investigative team design better trials and capture important information about a disease that might frequently be unknown unless we dive deeper into the patient’s story.

This program has been especially poignant for me as many members of my family are afflicted with chronic pain. Chronic pain, as described by Gaetana Kopchinsky, adjunct professor of medical and health humanities, is the silent epidemic. My thesis centers on the aspects of chronic pain and the narratives of patients who are many times not heard. I am researching some of the inequities in pain treatment and the commonalities of those who are afflicted with chronic pain. 


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