The Art and Science of Narrative Medicine: Creativity, Community, Justice, Care

A basic workshop held April 21-23, 2023 at Columbia University Irving Medical Center


Registration is now closed, but you can still inquire above about our waitlist for possible available space!


Join us for our our first basic workshop held in-person at Columbia University Irving Medical Center since 2019!

Come spend the weekend with us in New York for an immersive and intimate introduction to narrative medicine theory and practice, and myriad ways these applied creative skills impact community, justice, and care!

Rates and schedule listed below.

Workshop Description & Objectives

This workshop aims to give an intensive introduction to the field of narrative medicine, with special focus on the foundational theory and pedagogy that supports narrative medicine work. The workshop will report how rigorous narrative medicine interventions can be applied in myriad settings within and beyond healthcare with outcomes that include community building, social justice, creative practices, and empathic care. 

Our intensive workshop content will provide an immersive introductory experience to the methods and skills of narrative medicine and will offer rigorous skill-building in narrative practices. Interactive presentations by Division of Narrative Medicine faculty, including co-authors of Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine, will combine with group discussions, creative projects, and transformative small group work. New developments in narrative theory and practice that have emerged since the 2017 publication of Principles will be presented and discussed.

Narrative medicine recognizes the aesthetic capabilities of its practitioners as fundamental instruments necessary for effective care. Acts of perception and attention ignite our narrative practice. Seeing, hearing, sensing, taking in that which we witness begins the process toward healing, and narrative medicine training attunes us to those skills within ourselves. We grow toward our own powers to attend to our patients through the schooled avenues of close reading, deep listening, and concentrated witnessing of works of art.

This intensive workshop will offer rigorous skill-building in narrative competence and provides an intensive introductory experience to the methods and skills of narrative medicine. These practices are then applicable to unlimited clinical and non-clinical settings. Participants will experience plenary presentations by the founders of the Division of Narrative Medicine and will engage with faculty and each other for interactive presentations, Q&A, and small group work. Participants will learn effective techniques for attentive listening, adopting others’ perspectives, accurate representation, and reflective reasoning. Plenary presentations by faculty open up themes of how stories and art work, exploring concepts such as creativity, ethics, bearing witness, and empathy, while the small groups practice rigorous skills in close reading, creative writing, and responding to the writings of others. Close reading is an integral part of the workshop as is short prompted writing and discussion. Participants will gain access to online resources prior to the start of the workshop where all information necessary and required to prepare for the weekend is provided, including literary texts, film, visual art, and seminar articles in the field of narrative medicine by leading educators.

Narrative Medicine

The effective care of the sick requires deep and singular knowledge of the patient, competence, and commitment of the physician, and a sturdy bond of trust between the two. Despite the many sociocultural and professional factors that may divide doctors and patients, and the impact of political and economic pressures on health care as a whole, effective medical practice needs to replace hurried and impersonal care with careful listening and empathic attention. By fortifying clinical practice with the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by stories of illness, narrative training enables practitioners to comprehend patients’ experiences and to understand what they themselves undergo as clinicians. Professionalism, cultural competence, bioethical competence, interpersonal communication skills, self-reflective practice, and ability to work with health care teams can be strengthened by increasing narrative competence.

Many persons engaged in health care, including patients, providers, and literary scholars, are seeking fresh means to engage in powerful, person-centered care. Attentive listening, creative contact, singular accuracy, and personal fidelity are often missing from the routines of our practices. Among the many responses to the failures of our current health care system is Narrative Medicine. Developed at Columbia University in 2000, Narrative Medicine fortifies clinical practice with the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and be moved by stories of illness. We realize that the care of the sick unfolds in stories, and we recognize that the central event of health care occurs when the patient gives an account of self and the clinician skillfully receives it. Our experience and research have shown that the clinical routines and teaching methods of narrative medicine can transform practice and training. Time-tested teaching approaches can help participants to convey to their students the skills of empathic interviewing, reflective practice, narrative ethics, and self-awareness.

Come work and study with us in-person in New York City for a weekend. Connect with colleagues from the world over to learn the narrative skills of close reading, attentive listening, and creative writing. Find out how your own imagination can reveal things you know unawares. Experience the deep bonds that can form among clinicians and those who care about health care in short periods of small group intensive narrative work. Recognize and be recognized as ones who have care within them.

Participants Will: 

  • Develop the narrative competence to nourish empathic doctor-patient relationships
  • Learn narrative communication strategies for patient-centered and life-framed practice
  • Build habits of reflective practice that enhance professionalism and nurture clinical communities
  • Acquire pedagogic skills to teach methods of narrative medicine
  • Replace isolation with affiliation, cultivate enduring collegial alliances, and reveal meaning in clinical practice

The Workshop will be held on Friday between 1:30pm-8:00pm, Saturday between 9:00am-5pm and Sunday between 9:00am-4pm (all times Eastern Standard Time). Our preliminary schedule, tuition rates, and featured faculty are listed below. For additional information, email Joseph Eveld at

Schedule (all times Eastern Standard Time):

Friday April 21st

  • 1:30-2:30pm:  Registration
  • 2:30-3:30pm:  The Dialogic Revolution in Healthcare | Rita Charon, MD, PhD
  • 3:30-3:45pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 3:45-4:45pm:  Phenomenology of Care | Craig Irvine, PhD
  • 4:45-5:00pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 5:00-6:00pm:  Small Group Seminars
  • 6:30-8:00pm:  Reception

Saturday April 22nd

  • 8:30-9:00am:  Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00-10:30am:  Film, Relationality, Justice | Maura Spiegel, PhD
  • 10:30-10:45am:  Refreshment Break
  • 10:45am-12:15pm:  Small Group Seminars
  • 12:15-1:30pm:  Lunch
  • 1:30-3:00pm:  Literature as Life | Nellie Hermann, MFA
  • 3:00-3:15pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 3:15-4:45pm:  Small Group Seminars
  • 4:45pm:  Adjourment

Sunday April 23rd

  • 8:30-9:00am:  Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00-10:30am:  Contact with Self and Other, a Move Towards Justice | Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS
  • 10:30-10:45am:  Refreshment Break
  • 10:45am-12:15pm:  Small Group Seminars
  • 12:15-1:15pm:  Lunch
  • 1:15-2:45pm:  Narrative Medicine in Practice: Special Interest Groups
  • 2:45-3:00pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 3:00-4:00pm:  Weekend Wrap-Up & Reflection
  • 4:00pm:  Adjournment


  • Rita Charon, MD, PhD

    • Professor and Chair of the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics; Chief, Division of Narrative Medicine

    Rita Charon is a general internist and literary scholar who originated the field of narrative medicine. She is Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics and Professor of Medicine at Columbia University. She completed the MD at Harvard in 1978 and the PhD in English at Columbia in 1999, concentrating on narratology and the works of Henry James. Her research focuses on the consequences of narrative medicine practice, narrative medicine pedagogy, and health care team effectiveness. At Columbia, she directs the Foundations of Clinical Practice faculty seminar, the Virginia Apgar Academy for Medical Educators, the Narrative and Social Medicine Scholarly Projects Concentration Track, the required and elective Narrative Medicine curriculum for the medical school, and Columbia Commons: Collaborating Across Professions, a medical-center-wide partnership devoted to health care team effectiveness.  She inaugurated and teaches in the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine graduate program at Columbia. She has lectured and served as Visiting Professor at many medical schools and universities in the US and abroad, teaching narrative medicine theory and practice. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency, and research funding from the NIH, the NEH, the American Board of Internal Medicine, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and several additional private foundations. She was chosen by the National Endowment for the Humanities to deliver the 2018 Jefferson Lecture, “the highest honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.” Dr. Charon has published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, Narrative, Henry James Review, Poetics Today, The Drama Review, Partial Answers, and Literature and Medicine. She is the author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (Oxford University Press, 2006) and co-author of Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2017). She is co-editor of Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics (Routledge, 2002) and Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine (SUNY Press, 2008). 

    Headshot of Rita Charon
  • Craig Irvine, PhD

    • Co-Director and Lecturer in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University

    Craig Irvine, PhD, is a founder and Co-Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. He holds a doctorate in philosophy. For more than 15 years, he has been designing and teaching cultural competency, ethics, Narrative Medicine, and Humanities and Medicine curricula for residents, medical students, physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains, dentists, and other health professionals. He has over 20 years of experience researching the history of philosophy, phenomenology, and narrative ethics, and over 25 years of experience teaching ethics, humanities, the history of philosophy, logic, and narrative medicine at the graduate, undergraduate, and preparatory school levels. He has published articles in the areas of ethics, residency education, and literature and medicine and has presented at numerous national and international conferences on these and other topics.

    Headshot of Craig Irvine
  • Maura Spiegel, PhD

    • Senior Lecturer in the English and Comparative Literature Department and Co-Director of Narrative Medicine at Columbia

    Maura Spiegel, PhD, is Senior Lecturer of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she teaches courses on fiction and film, and is a founding Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine. She is the co-author of The Grim Reader: Writings on Death, Dying and Living On (Anchor/Doubleday), The Breast Book: An Intimate and Curious History (Workman), which was a Book-of-the-Month Club Quality Paperbacks selection. She co-edited the journal Literature and Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press) with Rita Charon, MD, PhD, for seven years. She has written for The New York Times, and has published essays on the history of the emotions, Charles Dickens, diamonds in the movies, among many other topics. Her most recent publication is a book about the life and films of Sidney Lumet for St. Martin’s Press, Sidney Lumet: A Life

    Headshot of Maura Spiegel
  • Nellie Hermann, MFA

    • Lecturer in Medical Humanities and Ethics at the Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons

    Nellie Hermann, Lecturer in Medical Humanities and Ethics at the Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons and Creative Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, is a graduate of Brown University and the MFA program at Columbia University. She has published two novels, The Cure for Grief and The Season of Migration, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice. Her non-fiction has appeared in an anthology about siblings, Freud’s Blindspot (Free Press: 2010), as well as in Academic Medicine. She has been an invited resident to numerous artist residencies such as The Millay Colony, The UCross Foundation, and The Saltonstall Foundation of the Arts. Over the last ten years, she has taught fiction and narrative medicine to undergraduates, medical students, graduate students, and clinicians of all sorts, and has given conference addresses in Iowa, California, Seoul, Korea, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2016 NEA Literature fellowship, a 2017 Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, and in 2018-19 was an inaugural fellow at Columbia's Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, France.

    Headshot of Nellie Hermann
  • Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS

    • Assistant Dean for Medical Education at Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine and Clinical Director of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University

    Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS, is Director of Clinical Practice of the Program in Narrative Medicine and is the first Assistant Dean for Medical Education at the newly founded Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, where he is working to introduce Narrative Medicine into the curriculum. To date, Dr. Gowda’s efforts have focused on care to underserved communities, clinical skills education, interprofessional education, and narrative medicine. Dr. Gowda is a general internist, photographer, and researcher looking at the use of visual art in health care settings. He has also conducted research on the effects of introducing narrative medicine methods into primary care clinics in Manhattan on team function and is a former Macy Scholar. 

    Headshot of Deepthiman Gowda


We invite nurses, physicians, physician assistants, dentists, chaplains, social workers, therapists, public health professionals and other clinicians, as well as writers, academics, scholars, and all those interested in the intersection of narrative and medicine to join us. By combining these groups of participants, we can all learn how to unify what are sometimes divided efforts in patient care, integrating the ethical awareness and sensibility with the clinical recognition that can ensue.

Comments from Recent Participants

I was an absolute novice when I arrived at the basic workshop that Friday afternoon. I had never written a thing. I didn’t even know what a prompt was. But after the small group sessions and the other exercises were complete, narrative upon narrative began to percolate to the surface. Two days after that session I wrote my first contemporaneous narrative and I haven’t stopped writing since. There were many superb writers in my small group. But I never felt that the sessions were a competition. They were about each one of us being a little bit better at telling the story then we were before the session started. This is the gift of the Columbia Narrative Medicine faculty – helping each be better, feeling free to take risks, to try things out, and understanding the value and beauty of close, critical reading colleagues.

Andre Lijoi, MD
Associate Program Director WellSpan York Hospital Family Medicine Program/Clinical Associate Professor, Penn State University School of Medicine

I am seeing more the value of narrative medicine–bringing us beyond the superficial to appreciating more the richness and complexity of our lives

Tom McNeil, Social Worker
Cape Breton Cancer Centre, Nova Scotia, Canada

I wish I could attend a workshop every few months. There’s something about having a community of practice that replenishes and inspires. The workshop made me more confident to move forward with [my narrative] project: Why not me? Why not now?

Kathy Kirkland, Palliative Care Physician
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Hanover, NH, USA


  • $1000 for participants with income over $100,000/year
  • $850 for income between $45,000 and $100,000/year
  • $500 for income under $45,000/year

Tuition includes access to all live content as well as supporting literature and pre-readings, continental breakfasts and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, refreshments during breaks, and our welcoming reception on Friday evening. Our Early Bird Discount applies $50 off to each tier, while active.

Discount for Cohorts

Based on our experience that cohorts of participants from an institution are better able to continue their narrative learning and to ignite narrative projects at their home institution, we offer a discount of $100 off the tuition for each individual who attends with a cohort of two or more. If you plan to enroll with a cohort, reach out to Joseph Eveld at for more information on how to register for the discount.

Continuing Education Credits

AMA Continuing Medical Education

The Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons designates this live activity for up to 14.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

International activities for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™

Physicians may earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ for participation in some international activities. As of this writing, the AMA has agreements with the European Union of Medical Specialists and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Information about the different ways to earn AMA PRA credit through international activities can be found on the AMA website at

Continuing Dental Education

Columbia University College of Dental Medicine is an ADA CERP recognized provider 5/1/2022-6/30/2026. ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors; nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry. Concerns or complaints about a CE provider may be directed to the provider or to ADA CERP at

Participants: Continuing Education credits awarded for participation in the CE activity may not apply toward license renewal in all states. It is the responsibility of each participant to verify the requirements of his/her licensing board(s) and to report credits to the appropriate authority.

Continuing Nursing Education Credits

Nursing Continuing Professional Development credits will be provided commensurate to each day's learning activities.

Learning Outcome: 

After the workshop, at least 80% of the attendees will be able to discuss and demonstrate the practical applications and strategies of Narrative Medicine through active participation in workshop activities such as reflection, narrative practices, creative projects and interactive group discussions.

NCPD Disclosure Statement:

New York Presbyterian is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. P#0675

This course requires participant’s full program attendance and completion of any required course documents.

The Planning Committee, presenters, faculty, authors and content reviewers have no conflicts of interest to disclose. Disclosure forms are required and have been reviewed for any issues.

Speakers are required to present balanced and unbiased presentations. The presentation content has been reviewed and any bias has been eliminated.

Accredited status does not imply endorsement by NewYork Presbyterian or ANCC Commission on Accreditation of any commercial products displayed in conjuction with this program 

There is no commercial support for this program.

Continuing Social Work Education Credits

A total of 14.5 contact hours, live in-person. CE contact hours will be awarded to NY, NJ, and CT licensed social workers*, NY mental health counselors, and NY psychologists who have met the requirements described below.

Social Workers: CSSW is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers. Provider #SW‐0021

*Social workers from other states, please confirm with your state licensing board. Please note that we do not specify type of credits (general, cultural competence, clinical, etc.)

Mental Health Counselors: CSSW is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors. Provider #MHC-0137

*Mental health counselors from other states, please confirm with your state licensing board.

Psychologists: CSSW- OPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists. Provider #PSY-0194.

*Psychologists from other states, please confirm with your state licensing board.

CE Certificate Requirements & Distribution

Please note that in order to receive your CE certificate, you must attend the full conference and complete the feedback evaluation in accordance with NYSED regulations. Please note that NYSED does not permit partial credit to be awarded.

Attendance: Plan accordingly to log-in on time and remain for the duration of the conference. There is a 10-minute grace period at the start OR end of each day. Participants who do not meet the attendance requirements will not receive a CE certificate or refund*.

CE Distribution: Evaluation and Certificate forms will be distributed via email within 2 weeks of receiving materials from Narrative Medicine to those meeting the attendance requirements above. If you do not receive your CE by May 10th then please email


Columbia University makes every effort to accommodate individuals with disabilities. If you require disability accommodations to for this event, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 212-854-2388 or at least 10 days in advance of the event. We will do our best to arrange accommodations received after this deadline but cannot guarantee them.


Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Accomodations and Travel Information

Participants to our workshop are responsible for their own travel and accommodations, however we are happy to assist with recommendations and information whenever possible. For accommodations, we recommend the Edge Hotel, located at 514 W 168th St, New York, NY 10032, as it is within easy walking distance of our workshop location and guests do not need to rely on public transport except if they wish to explore other parts of New York City outside of workshop hours. However, any of Columbia University's preferred hotels offer excellent accommodations within easy commute of the medical center campus. Additionally, Columbia University's Travel Portal offers additional needed information on local airports, directions to campus, local transit, campus maps, and parking. If you have any other questions or would like recommendations/advice on anything in particular, please feel free to reach out to Program Manager Joseph Eveld at

Share This Workshop

The Art and Science of Narrative Medicine: Creativity, Community, Justice, Care - April 21-23, 2023: #springNMworkshop #ArtandScienceofNM

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Fall Narrative Medicine Virtual Basic Workshop, October 14-16, 2022: #fallNMworkshop

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The Need for Narrative: Grappling and Reckoning with These Times, October 22-24, 2021: #fallNMworkshop #NeedForNarrative

Narrative Medicine Spring Virtual Basic Workshop, March 19-21, 2021: #springNMworkshop

Narrative Medicine & The Creative Impulse, October 23-25th 2020: #NMcreativeimpulse

Basic Workshop: October 11-13, 2019: #fallNMworkshop

Burnout in Healthcare: The Need for Narrative, March 8-10, 2019: #springNMworkshop #againstburnout

Basic Workshop: October 12-14, 2018: #fallNMworkshop

Narrative Palliative Care March 23-25, 2018: #palliativecarenmworkshop

Basic Workshop: November 10-12,2017: #fallNMworkshop

Race | Violence | Justice: The Need for Narrative, April 7 – 9, 2017: #SocialJustice2017

Basic Workshop: October 28 – 30, 2016: #fallNMworkshop

Advanced Workshop: June 23 – 26, 2016: #advancedNMworkshop

Narrative Medicine Summer Institute: June 6 – 10, 2016: #NMedInstitute2016 

Basic Workshop, A Call to Ethics: April 15 – 17, 2016: #NarrativeEthics2016

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