Narrative Medicine & The Creative Impulse

A Virtual Basic Workshop and Online Course

October 23 – 25, 2020

Inquire About the Waitlist!

**Registration for the workshop is now closed, but please feel free to inquire about the waitlist, above, as we may be able to accommodate some late registrations if space permits.**

Narrative Medicine & The Creative Impulse is going virtual!

With a one-time 25% percent discount on our usual tuition rates, and Early Bird Registration of $50 off the discounted tuition through October 9th! Updated rates and schedule listed below.


In light of the ongoing and necessary precautions surrounding travel and public gatherings, we will be transforming this workshop and introductory Narrative Medicine course into a virtual experience! While we hope to be able to be together in person again for future workshops, we are excited by the possibilities of bringing this learning experience to you in a new and even more broadly accessible format. Over the last few weeks the narrative medicine faculty and program directors have worked to preserve all of the original content, including lectures, small group work, literature, educational and networking resources, continuing education credits, and direct interaction with narrative medicine faculty and our guest speakers. Our new format combines live virtual sessions and asynchronous learning modalities to deliver an introduction to the field that provides the same learning, connection, and transformative experience over the course of our October weekend as our traditional workshops, while taking into consideration the fatigue and burnout of demanding virtual schedules.  

We are also offering a one-time 25% percent discount on our usual tuition rates, with the understanding that time and resources have increased demands during these difficult few months, as well as an early bird special of $50 off the discounted tuition for those who sign up before October 9th.

Our updated registration rates are listed below, as well as a new outline for our virtual weekend schedule and preparatory asynchronous materials. 

We look forward to sharing the practice and creative inspiration of Narrative Medicine with you in these new and creative ways, illustrating just how impactful narrative medicine can be even from “afar.”

Narrative Medicine is, at its core, a creative act. Acts of perception and attention ignite our narrative practice. Seeing, hearing, sensing, taking in that which we witness begins the process toward healing, and creative thinking fostered by narrative medicine training attunes us to those skills within ourselves. Creative Director of Narrative Medicine novelist Nellie Hermann has been our leader and inspiration in locating creativity at the heart of what we do.

The creativity of narrative medicine goes far beyond a reliance on fiction and film as convenient “case histories” of patients, or paintings as observable depictions of diseased bodies, or musical compositions as evidence of a composer’s psychopathology. Instead, narrative medicine recognizes the aesthetic capabilities of its practitioners as fundamental instruments necessary for effective care. 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 workshop features world-renowned writers, artists, cinema scholars, and musicians who can reveal to us how to get the news from stories, images, and sounds. Join us in engaging interactions with works of art in varied forms and genres. Join us too in the creation of art—not only for the pleasure this brings, but for the community-building that cannot but follow from it. Narrative medicine is a radical practice with art and beauty at its center, not to distract us from the suffering we face, but to make the suffering visible, audible, and palpable so as to ease it.

Workshop Description and 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, as well as guest lectures by Robert O’Meally and Rika Burnham, in both live and asynchronous formats, and will engage with faculty and each other live via Zoom 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 our online resources prior to the start of the workshop where all information necessary 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.

The Workshop live content will be held on Friday between 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Saturday between 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and Sunday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Our updated full schedule and outline of resources is listed below. For additional information, email Joseph Eveld at or call the Division of Narrative Medicine at 212-305-1952.

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.

Work and study with us virtually 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.


Asynchronous Resources:

(available via University secured online platform several weeks before workshop dates; live faculty Q&A during the weekend follows the recorded lectures.)

  • Orientation: Workshop Guidelines, Introductory information, and Welcome Board
  • Participant Profile: Voluntary, Including Bio/Contact Info/Headshot
  • Discussion/Resource Boards to connect across Professional Backgrounds
  • Discussion Boards for Pre-Recorded and Resource Content
  • Pre-readings and Course Literature            

Recorded Lectures:

  • “Life Is Everywhere: The Perceiving Eye, the Storied World” by Rita Charon MD, PhD
  • “On Romare Bearden, Collage, and the Concept of Repair” by Robert O’Meally, PhD
  • “Writing in Narrative Medicine: Harnessing the Creative Impulse” by Nellie Hermann, MFA
  • “Creating Experience: Representation and Witnessing” by Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS and Craig Irvine, PhD

Live Schedule

Friday, October 23

  • 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. EDT: The Dreamer Position | Rika Burnham, DFA (live via Zoom)
  • 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. EDT: Small Group Seminars | Zoom Small Group Breakouts

Saturday, October 24

  • 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. EDT: Small Group Seminars | Zoom Small Group Breakouts
  • 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. EDT: Exercising the Imagination: Watching Film as Creative Work | Maura Spiegel, PhD (live via Zoom)
  • 3:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m. EDT: Small Group Seminars | Zoom Small Group Breakouts
  • 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. EDT: Optional: Drop-In Faculty Q&A | Zoom Breakout with Faculty

Sunday, October 25

  • 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. EDT: Small Group Seminars | Zoom Small Group Breakouts
  • 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. EDT: Small Group Seminars | Zoom Small Group Breakouts
  • 3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m. EDT: Faculty Panel | All Faculty (Zoom)
  • 5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. EDT: Optional: Drop-In Faculty Q&A | Zoom Breakout with Faculty


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.


  • Rita Charon, MD, PhD

    Professor and Chair of the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics, Professor of Medicine at Columbia, narratologist and Jamesian, Executive Director of the Division of Narrative Medicine, author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness.

  • Nellie Hermann, MFA

    Creative Director of the Division of Narrative Medicine, novelist, architect of Columbia’s faculty development in writing for clinicians, author of The Cure for Grief and The Season of Migration.

  • Craig Irvine, PhD

    Director of the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine graduate program at Columbia, Lecturer in Narrative Medicine at Columbia, phenomenologist, and memoirist, author of “The Other Side of Silence: Levinas, Medicine, and Literature.”

  • Maura Spiegel, PhD

    Professor of English at Columbia, Interim Director of Columbia’s American Studies Program, Victorianist and cinema scholar, editor of The Grim Reader and author of the forthcoming biography of film director Sidney Lumet.

  • Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS

    Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University and Director of Clinical Practice of the Division of Narrative Medicine. Dr. Gowda is a general internist, photographer, and teacher/researcher in the teaching of visual arts in health care settings. He is also a current Macy Foundation Faculty Scholar.

  • Robert O’Meally, PhD

    Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and founder and former director of the Center for Jazz Studies. His major interests are American literature, music, and painting. He has written extensively on Ralph Ellison, including The Craft of Ralph Ellison (Harvard, 1980), and a collection of papers for which he served as editor, New Essays on Invisible Man (Cambridge, 1989). Professor O’Meally has written a biography of Billie Holiday entitled Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday (Little, Brown, 1989) and a documentary on Holiday (which has been shown on public TV).

  • Rika Burnham, DFA

    A leading theorist and practitioner of art museum gallery teaching, Rika Burnham serves as Head of Education at the Frick Collection in New York and project director for Teaching Institute for Museum Educators/TIME at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Previously, she was a museum educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. An influential author in her field, her publications include several essays on museum education (National Gallery of Australia, 2015; The Barnes Foundation, 2015; and SITE Santa Fe, 2015) and a catalogue essay in Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009). Teaching in the Art Museum: Interpretation as Experience (Getty, 2011), which she coauthored with Elliott Kai-Kee, won a PROSE Award for best title in education from the Association of American Publishers. Burnham holds a degree in art history from Harvard University and was awarded the degree of Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2014. She teaches The Literature of Art in the Master’s Program.

Comments From Recent Participants

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

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


  • $750 for participants with income over $100,000/year (Marked down 25% from $1000 and can be combined with our $50 Early Bird Discount)
  • $637 for income between $45,000 and $100,000/year (Marked down 25% from $850 and can be combined with our $50 Early Bird Discount)
  • $375 for income under $45,000/year (Marked down 25% from $500 and can be combined with our $50 Early Bird Discount)

(Tuition includes access to all live and asynchronous content, as well as literature and pre-readings). 

Discounts 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 now offer a discount of $50 on 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 a maximum of 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 11/2017-12/2021. 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 Education Credits for Social Workers and Mental Health Counselors

In order to receive your continuing education certificate, you must attend the entire workshop and complete the evaluation.
14.5 contact hours will be awarded for NYS, NJ and CT licensed social workers and NYS licensed mental health counselors*. Licensed social workers for other states, please email Columbia University School of Social Work is a CSWE accredited institution.

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

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

*Certificates will be emailed within 30 days of the workshop.

Continuing Nursing Education Credits

Columbia University School of Nursing is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. The Columbia University School of Nursing designates this live activity for a maximum of 14.5 CNE credit hours. Nurses should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


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.

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