A conversation: Haiku within medicine, coping with burnout – American Medical Association


Featured topic and speakers

Frank Clark, MD, wrote poetry in medical school to cope with depression. Now, with the strain of COVID-19, he crafts haiku.


  • Frank Clark, MD, psychiatrist
  • Sara Berg, MS, senior news writer, American Medical Association


  • Todd Unger, chief experience officer, American Medical Association

Listen to the episode on the go on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or anywhere podcasts are available.

Unger: The AMA is committed to making physician burnout a thing of the past by addressing issues that fuel burnout at the system level and supporting physician well-being. Individual physicians often have their own way of coping, like Dr. Frank Clark, who has found comfort in writing haiku.

Dr. Clark: I actually enjoy the practice and just the thinking about the 5-7-5 pattern that makes a haiku … A walk in nature/and forests cacophony/a muser’s delight … For me, poetry has been cathartic in a lot of ways and I find it again rejuvenating for my mind, my body and my spirit.

Unger: Dr. Frank Clark shares his passion for haiku in this episode of Moving Medicine. In his conversation with AMA Senior News Writer Sara Berg, Dr. Clark reinforces the use of creative outlets as a means of coping with burnout.

Berg:  Today I’m talking with Dr. Frank Clark and learning more about his experience writing haikus as a way to cope with burnout. Thanks so much for being here with us, Dr. Clark.

Dr. Clark: Thank you, Sara. I appreciate you having me on and it’s always a pleasure to reconnect with you during these unprecedented times.

Berg:  Of course, definitely. What drew you to haikus? Where did it all start?

Dr. Clark: That’s a very good question. I have been writing poetry probably since I was in medical school. I have been trying to focus on the silver linings during this pandemic. One of the things that the pandemic has allowed me to do is, I think it’s reenergized me in terms of my passion for writing. I started writing more poetry, I was at a dormant stage maybe as it relates to writing. There’s so much to write about now as regarding the pandemic and the social and political unrest and racial injustices that we continue to see in our society. I definitely had a lot of content to reflect on.

I just started trying to increase my versatility, so to speak, as it comes to poetry. I said, well, let me try writing haikus because I had never written them. I enjoy the practice and just the thinking about the  5-7-5 pattern that makes a haiku. I think …….

Source: https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/conversation-haiku-within-medicine-coping-burnout

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