Columbia University Irving Medical Center

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Narrative Medicine Basic Weekend Workshop, Fall 2019

October 11, 2019 @ 1:30 pm - October 13, 2019 @ 4:00 pm

OCTOBER 11 – 13, 2019

Inquire About the Waitlist!

Registration is now closed for capacity, but please email above to be added to the waitlist for enrollment!

This Basic Workshop 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. From Friday at 1:30 pm to Sunday at 4 pm, participants gather for plenary presentations by the founders of the Division of Narrative Medicine alternating with small-group seminars. Participants will form small groups of eight that stay together throughout the weekend, while small group facilitators rotate through the groups.

Plenary presentations by faculty open up themes of how stories 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 resource page prior to the start of the workshop where all information necessary to prepare for the weekend including literary texts, film, visual art and seminar articles in the field of narrative medicine by leading educators.

Workshop Description & Objectives

These intensive workshops will offer rigorous skill-building in narrative competence. Participants will learn effective techniques for attentive listening, adopting others’ perspectives, accurate representation, and reflective reasoning. Plenary sessions will focus on reconceptualizing empathy, narrative ethics, bearing witness, and illness narratives.

Small group seminars will offer firsthand experience in close reading, reflective writing, and autobiographical exercises. The target audience is physicians, other health care professionals and scholars interested in Narrative Medicine.

The Workshop will be held on Friday from 1:30p-7:30p, Saturday from 8:30a-5p and Sunday from 8:30a-4p. 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.

Come work and study with us for a weekend. Gather 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.




1:30-2:30 Registration & Refreshments
2:30-3:30 Narrative Medicine: Methods for Improving Clinical Effectiveness | Rita Charon, MD, PhD
3:45-5:00 Reading | Novelist Nellie Hermann, MFA | Nellie Hermann, MFA
5:00–6:00 Small Group Seminars
6:30-7:30 Cocktail Reception | Location: Coogan’s Restaurant: 4015 Broadway (between 168th & 169th St)


8:30-9:00 Continental Breakfast
9:00-10:30 Reconceptualizing Empathy | Maura Spiegel, PhD
10:45-12:15 Small Group Seminars | Close Reading: Training for Attentive Listening
12:15-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3:00 Writing in the Clinical Context and Beyond | Nellie Hermann, MFA
3:15-4:45 Small Group Seminars | Narrative Writing from Practice: Enlarging the Clinical Fund of Knowledge Through Representation


8:30-9:00 Continental Breakfast
9:00-10:30 Narrative Ethics: New Clinical Approaches | Craig Irvine, PhD
10:45-12:15 Small Group Seminars | Narrative Listening: How to Elicit the Full Stories of Illness
12:15-1:15 Lunch
1:15–2:15 Small Group Seminars | Illness Narratives: The Skills of Bearing Witness to the Suffering of Others
2:30–4:00 Bearing Witness to Yourself in the Work | Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS
Adjournment at 4:00pm


We invite nurses, physicians, physicians’ 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, is a general internist and literary scholar at Columbia University. She had practiced general medicine here for over 30 years since her fellowship in general medicine. She publishes and lectures on the narrative dimensions of clinical practice, narrative ethics, and the works of Henry James. With her collaborators including Craig Irvine, Maura Spiegel, and Nellie Hermann, she inaugurated the field of Narrative Medicine.

Nellie Hermann, MFA, Creative Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University, is a graduate of Brown University and the M.F.A. 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. She is a recipient of a NEA Literature grant, was a 2017-2018 Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, and is currently a fellow at Columbia’s new Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, France.

Craig Irvine, PhD, Dr. Irvine holds a PhD in Philosophy. For almost 20 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. Dr. Irvine is co-author of The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine, and has published articles in the areas of ethics, residency education, and literature and medicine. He has presented at numerous national and international conferences on these and other topics.

Maura Spiegel, PhD, is a professor of English who has been teaching fiction and film at Columbia University and Barnard College for the past 20-odd years. She is a founding director of the program in Narrative Medicine. In addition to teaching in our Masters program, she offers film courses to first-year medical students. Along with Rita, she was the co-editor-in-chief of the journal Literature and Medicine for 7 years; she co-Authored The Grim Reader: Writings on Death, Dying and Living On, The Breast Book: An Intimate and Curious History., and, with other members of our faculty, The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine. She writes on numerous topics related to narrative, and has written a book on the life and work of movie director Sidney Lumet, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press.

Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH, MS, is Director of Clinical Practice of the Program in 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. Dr, Gowda recently joined the new Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine as their first Assistant Dean for Medical Education where he will be introducing Narrative Medicine into their curriculum. In his spare time, he is also a DJ.

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

Held at the Columbia University Medical Center campus, these weekends will provide opportunities for individual consultations with faculty, shared meals, informal social gatherings, and access to the cultural offerings of New York City.


  • $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 meals during workshop hours, and select readings). Participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodations. When available, the early bird registration offers $50 off all tuition fees. Our early bird special starts with registration and ends on midnight of Friday September 6, 2019.

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 $100 on the tuition for each individual who attends within a cohort of two or more.If you plan to come with a cohort, reach out to Joseph Eveld at for more information on how to register for the discount.


Columbia University Irving Medical Center
168th and Broadway, New York, NY 10032

(168th Street Station for A/C trains. NOTE: 1 trains will not be stopping at 168th Street until January 2022 due to construction)


Participants are responsible for their own accommodations. Click here to access the Columbia University Travel Portal to book preferred hotels with a discount.  The Edge Hotel is the only hotel within walking distance, other hotels like Hotel Cliff, Saint Nicholas Inn and Aloft Harlem are a short subway ride away. Please visit Google Maps for an idea of proximity and location.

The workshop itself takes place in northern Manhattan, in the “Washington Heights” neighborhood, near Broadway and 168th Street (which is different than the main Columbia University campus at 116th St). There are many affordable apartments to rent within walking distance through We recommend staying as far west as possible.

Continuing Education Credits

AMA Continuing Medical Education

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

The College of Physicians and Surgeons designates this live activity for a maximum of 15 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 & Mental Health Counselors

In order to receive your continuing education certificate, you must attend the entire workshop and complete the evaluation.
15 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 15 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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  • A Basic Narrative Medicine Workshop, October 11-13, 2019: #fallNMworkshop

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For general questions, please contact Joseph Eveld at


October 11, 2019 @ 1:30 pm
October 13, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Division of Narrative Medicine in the Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics
Tel: 212.305.1952 | Fax: 212.305.9349


Open to public


Alumni Auditorium
630-650 West 168 Street
New York, United States
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