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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

You register and find out more here

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