Narrative Intersections: Communicating Across Differences, April 26-28 2024

A basic narrative medicine workshop held in-person at Columbia University Irving Medical Center


Join us in-person for an immersive and intimate weekend at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York featuring distinguished guest speakers and a special thematic focus on communicating across differences and the complex intersections of healthcare and community!

Register now for $50 off tuition with our Early Bird pricing!

This workshop will provide a transformative introduction to the field of narrative medicine with a special focus on the ways the practice can be applied in communicating across differences and understanding the complex intersections of identity, community, self and other present in the exchanges between clinicians and patients and in the broader spaces of community that impact and are impacted by healthcare.

The weekend will feature integrated practice of narrative medicine methods, along with interactive presentations by Columbia Narrative Medicine faculty Rita Charon, MD, PhD, Craig Irvine, PhD, Maura Spiegel, PhD and Deepthiman Gowda MD, MPH, MS, as well as FEATURED GUEST PRESENTATIONS BY: 

Jae Sevelius, PhD (they/them) clinical psychologist, Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, and Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute will speak from their background of community-led research serving gender expansive people of color and those affected by HIV on “Reclaiming the Self: Autonomy, Authenticity, and Affirmation.”

Christopher Travis, MD, MS alumnx of the Columbia Narrative Medicine masters program and Assistant Professor and Assistant Education Director for Narrative Medicine in the Department of OB/GYN at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University will present on the influence of narrative medicine in medical training with “Reflections on Training, Difference, and Collegiality,” where he will also dialogue with presenting faculty and Narrative Medicine Clinical Director and Assistant Dean of Medical Education for Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS.

Narrative medicine founding faculty will themselves present on how narrative medicine works, narrative ethics in the context of these concepts of intersection and difference, the power of film in understanding and witnessing dialogues, and pathways for connection in witnessing of self and other. These presentations by Division of Narrative Medicine faculty and our guest speakers, will combine with group discussions, practical exercises, and transformative small group work to provide an immersive introductory experience to the methods and skills of narrative medicine, and will offer rigorous skill-building in narrative practices. 

Full schedule and details, including faculty presentations, tuition rates, our discount for cohorts, and travel information are listed below!

Workshop Description & Objectives

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 distinguished guest speakers,  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

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.

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 Daylight Time). Our preliminary schedule, tuition rates, and featured faculty are listed below. For additional information, email Program Manager Joseph Eveld at

Schedule (all times Eastern Daylight Time):

Friday April 26th

  • 1:30-2:30pm:  Registration & Refreshments
  • 2:30-3:30pm:  How Does Narrative Medicine Work? | Rita Charon, MD, PhD
  • 3:30-3:45pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 3:45-4:45p: Ethics Across Distance: Literature, Opacity, and Difference | Craig Irvine, PhD
  • 4:45-5:00pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 5:00-6:00pm:  Small Group Seminars
  • 6:30-8:00pm:  Reception

Saturday April 27th

  • 8:30-9:00am:  Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00-10:30am:  Speaking and Being Spoken To: Systems, Structures and Audience in Savanah Leaf’s “Earth Mama”  | 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:  Reflections on Training, Difference, and Collegiality | Chris Travis, MD, MS and Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS
  • 3:00-3:15pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 3:15-4:45pm:  Small Group Seminars
  • 4:45pm:  Adjourment

Sunday April 28th

  • 8:30-9:00am:  Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00-10:30am:  Reclaiming the Self: Autonomy, Authenticity, and Affirmation | Jae Sevelius, PhD
  • 10:30-10:45am:  Refreshment Break
  • 10:45am-12:15pm:  Small Group Seminars
  • 12:15-1:15pm:  Lunch
  • 1:15-2:45pm:  Witnessing Self & Other: Pathways for Connection | Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS
  • 2:45-3:00pm:  Refreshment Break
  • 3:00-4:00pm:  Weekend Wrap-Up & Reflection
  • 4:00pm:  Adjournment


  • Jae Sevelius, PhD

    • Professor of Medical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute

    Jae Sevelius, PhD (they/them), is a clinical psychologist, Professor of Medical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, and Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Their community-led research focuses on serving gender expansive people of color and those affected by HIV in California, New York, and São Paulo, Brazil, with an emphasis on building community leadership to develop and evaluate trauma-informed health promotion interventions, including psychedelic-assisted therapies, for gender expansive people. Their research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, CDC, state-level agencies, and philanthropic organizations. Their interests lie at the intersections of social justice, self-exploration, whole-person health, community, and identity.

    Headshot of Jae Sevelius against a black brick wall
  • Chris Travis, MD, MS

    • Assistant Professor and Assistant Education Director for Narrative Medicine in the Department of OB/GYN at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University

    Christopher Travis, MD, MS is Assistant Professor and Assistant Education Director for Narrative Medicine in the Department of OB/GYN at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. He graduated from the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia in 2013 where he focused on narrative ethics, reflective writing, and race. He studied medicine at Columbia as well, where he chaired the Student Curriculum Advisory Board and was a student leader of the Task Force for Promoting a Bias Free Curriculum. He completed his residency training in OB/GYN at the University of Southern California/LA General Medical Center. Dr. Travis is committed to using narrative to promote a more empathetic, inclusive, and patient centered approach to health care and medical education.

    Headshot of Christopher Travis, MD, MS
  • 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
  • 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 Program Manager 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 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

We anticipate that 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.


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

Detailed location information and directions will be supplied with registration materials. All participants will need a photo ID to access Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus spaces. 


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, and 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. The Radio Hotel located at 2420 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10033, is another close option for those who don't mind a slightly longer walk or quick busride. 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

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Narrative Intersections: Communicating Across Differences April 26-28, 2024: #springNMworkshop #NarrativeIntersections

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