StudioLab Narrative Medicine Journalism Workshop

Call for Applications

We are pleased to announce the fourth year of our Narrative Medicine Journalism Workshop, a nonfiction training program for people who want to learn to write and report about health subjects—including health equity issues and aspects of clinical experiences—for the public media and in nonfiction books.

Once you have finished the training, you are invited to join the active alumni group from previous workshops (aka “The Academy”) which continues to meet monthly to share story ideas, comment on each other’s work, discuss journalism on medicine, and help each other get published, in a uniquely supportive environment.

The workshop is taught by award-winning journalist and bestselling author Stephen Fried, and was adapted for Narrative Medicine from his workshops at Columbia Journalism School. It is appropriate for those who have never written for a general audience—but are motivated to learn how—as well as those who have already done some work in this area, but would like to improve their reporting, writing, story generation, and relationships with assigning editors. We work on reported op-eds, short features and longform pieces, as well as the queries and strategies used to place them with editors of newspapers, magazines, online-only outlets, or books.

The workshop involves at least 6 monthly writing assignments and sessions (two hours each) with the new workshop class, from September 2023 into January 2024. Sessions are held Wednesday evenings, mostly online. One-on-one office hours are also available.

Participants are also invited to share guest lecturer sessions with clinician-journalists and medical writers, which make up the first half of some monthly meetings of the active alumni group. (Previous guests include Dhruv Khullar, Daniella Lamas, Bob Wachter and Danielle Ofri.)

The workshop is part of Columbia’s Narrative Medicine StudioLab, which is sponsored by the Division of Narrative Medicine of the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, under the direction of founder and chair Dr. Rita Charon; it is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. StudioLab is a gathering place for CUIMC faculty and students engaged in arts and humanities work. 

We are currently accepting workshop applications from faculty (junior, mid-career and senior), as well as trainees and students from all schools in the medical center: medical, dental, nursing, public health and social work. Alumnae of these schools may also apply. We select up to 10 participants for each workshop group.

Since the workshop’s inception, its members—who previously had little or no experience writing for the lay press--published pieces they developed in the group setting in the New York Times, the New, the Washington Post, the New York Daily NewsNautilus magazine, Ms. magazine, the Seattle Times and Backpacker (where one workshop member was helped to develop a regular medical column).

Professor Stephen Fried, the founding director of the journalism workshop, is the author of seven narrative non-fiction books and biographies (most recently on the founding father of American medicine, Dr. Benjamin Rush.) His award-winning investigative articles on pharmaceutical safety, and subsequent book Bitter Pills, changed the way certain antibiotics are now prescribed. He has decades of experience as a journalist, magazine writer and editor at national and regional publications; he spent over fifteen years teaching feature and longform writing, and overseeing master’s projects, on the faculty of the Columbia Journalism School, before developing a program of instruction for physicians and medical trainees. He also teaches nonfiction writing and mental health writing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Application Form

NMED StudioLab Journalism Workshop Application Form

E-mail your responses to the following application with writing sample to: Rita Charon ( & Stephen Fried ( Call 917-748-7812 for questions.




Email and phone:

Please answer the following questions in up to 200 words per answer:

  1. If you have writing/reporting training or experience in nonfiction work, please tell us about them.
  2. What are the particular topics or issues you think you’d want to write about?
  3. What non-medical publications do you read for news and features on medical issues?
  4. What medical journalist or physician/writers’ work interests you, in publications or books?
  5. What are your hopes for your future work as a nonfiction writer?

Please attach or copy in a writing sample. If you have been published in the general media, include that: if you have not (which is perfectly fine) try to include something written to engage a general audience (for example, something reported and explanatory, or something describing your medical training or work.)


Workshop Faculty

  • Stephen Fried

    Stephen Fried

    Columbia University: Adjunct Professor, 2002-present (Graduate School of Journalism, 2002-2019; Department of Psychiatry 2011-2012, 2018-2019; Narrative Medicine 2019-Present)

    University of Pennsylvania: Lecturer, 2008-present

    Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Collaborator, 2015-present



    RUSH: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father Crown Books/Random House, 2018

    A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction by Patrick J. Kennedy and Stephen Fried, Blue Rider, 2015 (New York Times bestseller)

    Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West—One Meal at a Time Bantam 2010 (New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal Ten Best Books of the Year, Philadelphia Inquirer Ten Best Books of the Year, Ten Best Business Books of Year, Kirkus Best Books of the Year)

    Husbandry, Bantam 2007 (essay collection)

    The New Rabbi, Bantam 2002 (Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of the Year; 10 Best Books on Religion and Spirituality)

    Bitter Pills: Inside the Hazardous World of Legal Drugs, Bantam 1998 (Philadelphia Inquirer Best Books of the Year; Men’s Fitness Best Books of the Year)

    Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia, S&S/Pocket Hardcover 1993 (Philadelphia Inquirer Best Books of the Year; introduced the word “fashionista” into the English language, adapted into Emmy-winning HBO film “Gia”)


    Awards, Books:

    George Washington Book Prize, 2019 finalist (Rush)

    American Library Association, Notable Book of the Year, Nonfiction 2018 (Rush)

    Athenaeum of Philadelphia Literary Award 2011 (Appetite for America)

    Southwest Books of the Year, 2010 (Appetite for America)

    Kansas Books of the Year, 2010 (Appetite for America)

    Investigative Reporters and Editors book prize, finalist 1999 (Bitter Pills)

    Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Cheers Award 1999 (Bitter Pills)


    Awards, Magazine Writing:

    National Magazine Award: winner, Public Interest, 1994; winner, Special Interest, 1993; also finalist in Reporting, 1999, and Special Interest, 1989

    Benjamin Rush Award, 2017, American Psychiatric Association PA chapter, recognizing career of mental health journalism

    National Headliner Award: Outstanding Feature Writing, 1999

    National SDX/SPJ Award: Magazine Reporting, 1987

    Vidocq Society, Medal of Honor: 1998

    Clarion Award, National Women in Communications: 1999, 1995, 1989

    National Epilepsy Foundation: Distinguished Journalism Award 2005

    National Easter Seals Society: EDI Awards, 1995, 1993

    American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: MORE award, 2011

    City and Regional Magazine Association: Gold Medal for Reporting, 1998, Feature Writing, 1997

    Best American Essays: Notable Essays of the Year, 1994, 1993

    Best American Sports Writing: Notable Story of the Year, 1996


    Awards, Editing:

    National Magazine Award: finalist, 2000, in Feature Writing and Profiles

    Clarion Award, National Women in Communications: Best Magazine 100,000-500,000 circulation, Most Improved Magazine, 2000

    City and Regional Magazine Association: Gold Medals for General Excellence and Excellence in Writing, 2000


    Magazine positions:

    Philadelphia magazine, Writer-at-large, 2011-present, Editor-in chief, 1999-2000, Senior Editor 1982-1999

    Vanity Fair, Contributing Writer, 1994-1997

    GQ, Contributing Writer/Columnist, 1987-1991

    Glamour, Contributing Editor, 1996-1998, 2001-2008

    Ladies Home Journal, Columnist, 2004-2009

    Also contributor to: Smithsonian Magazine, Rolling Stone, Washington Post Magazine, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Parade, Business Week, British Vogue, The Jewish Forward


    Professional affiliations:

    New Mexico History Museum: director of annual “Fred Harvey History Weekend, 2017-present; co-founder Harvey Weekend, consultant and lecturer, 2010-2016; consultant for permanent exhibit on Fred Harvey (inspired by Appetite for America and opened 2014)

    National Council for Behavioral Health Medical Director Institute, expert panel member for “Mass Violence in America: Causes, Impacts and Solutions” white paper, 2018-2019

    Columbia Conference on Mental Health Journalism & Media, Founding director 2018-2019

    WHYY Behavioral Health Journalism Workshop Series, Co-director, 2016-2018

    American Psychiatric Association: editorial consultant, 2012-2014

    Columbia University Department of Psychiatry: instructor on writing for lay public, 2011-2012; presented at APA national convention, 2012

    The Kennedy Forum: founding board member, editorial consultant, 2013-2017

    Patrick J. Kennedy: speechwriting (including Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on mental health parity)

    Nora Magid Mentorship Prize, co-founder and chairman: 2003-present (founded and oversee mentorship for annual prize given by University of Pennsylvania media alumni to the most promising Penn senior planning a career in non-fiction

    American Medical Association, National Patient Safety Foundation, Pharmaceutical Safe Use Committee: member 1999-2002


    Invited Lectures:

    Park Avenue Synagogue, NY, Scholar-in-Residence, Brain Health & Faith, 2020; Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U. S. Senate, 2020; American Medical Association, AMPAC Capital Club 2019; Weill-Cornell Richardson Lecture, History of Psychiatry 2019; James Madison Program, Princeton University 2019; W.W. Smith Charitable Trust 2019; Dickinson College 2019; Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia 2019; Charaka Club 2019; Penn Club NY 2019; Missouri History Museum 2019; American Jewish University 2019; National Council for Behavioral Health annual meeting, 2019; Smithsonian Institute 2018, 2011; College of Physicians 2018; Kansas City Public Library 2018, 2011; St. Louis County Library 2018; University of New Mexico, Willard Lecture, Zimmerman Library 2017; Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Roger Moss Symposium 2017; New Mexico History Museum 2010-2019; National Park Service, Grand Canyon 2016, 2013; Heard Museum 2014-2016, 2010-2012; National Council for Behavioral Health, 2014; American Psychiatric Association, 2012-2013; National Archives Washington DC 2011; National Archives, Kansas City 2014, 2010; Leavenworth County Historical Society 2012, 2010; Purdue University, Darden Lecture 2011; Arizona Caregiver Consortium, 2011; Wichita-Sedwick County Historical Museum 2011; Philadelphia Free Library 2010; Chicago History Museum 2010; Autry Museum 2010; Post-Approval Research conference, Philadelphia, 2007; Brandeis University, Gralla Lecture, 2005; John Jay College, 2004; Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management, 2002; FDA, 2001; Investigative Reporters and Editors, 2001


    Grand Rounds:

    Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, 2019, 2006; Penn State, Hershey Medical Center 2019; Pennsylvania Hospital, 2018; NYU/Langone Department of Neurology, 2018; Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, 2014; University of Indiana Hospital, 2011; Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, 2006; Bassett Medical Center, 2002; St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, 1998


    Television appearances:

    C-SPAN Book TV; C-SPAN American History TV; CBS Sunday Morning; CBS This Morning Saturday; PBS Newshour; The Oprah Winfrey Show; The Today Show; Good Morning America; CBS Morning News; CNN; Fox News; Dateline; PA Books, PCN-TV


    Chapters in the following books:

    Our Times 2, 1991

    Magazine and Feature Writing, 1993;

    Deviant Behavior, 1997/1998

    Women’s Health Annual Editions, 1999/2000

    Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of LA 2014

    La Fonda Then and Now 2017


    Contact Information:


    Twitter: @stephen_fried