Columbia University Irving Medical Center

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Burnout in Healthcare: The Need for Narrative

March 8, 2019 @ 9:00 am - March 10, 2019 @ 10:30 am

March 8 – 10, 2019

Registration is Now Closed – Email for Inquiries!

Schedule posted below.

This Basic Workshop provides an intensive introductory experience to the methods and skills of Narrative Medicine, with a special focus on the ways narrative medicine techniques can approach the issues of burnout and moral injury in healthcare, and in the workplace in general. These practices are then applicable to unlimited clinical and non-clinical settings. From Friday at 2 pm to Sunday at 2:30 pm, participants gather for plenary presentations by the founders of the Division of Narrative Medicine alternating with small-group seminars and a guest lecture by Kelley Skeff. 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 is provided, 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 2p-8p, Saturday from 8:30a-5p and Sunday from 8:30a-2:30p. 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
2:30-3:20 Confronting Health Care Burnout with Narrative | Rita Charon, MD, PhD
3:30-4:30 Small Group Seminars
4:30–6:00 Writing at Work: The Necessary Practice of Creativity | Nellie Hermann, MFA
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 Re-examining the Nature of Burnout and Our Roles in Addressing It | Kelley Skeff, MD, PhD
10:45-12:15 Small Group Seminars | Close Reading: Training for Attentive Listening
12:15-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3:00 Moral Injury and Burnout: Locating Experience through Film | Maura Spiegel, PhD
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 Creating a Culture for Narrative Work | Craig Irvine, PhD and Deepthiman Gowda, MD, MPH
10:45-12:15 Small Group Seminars | Narrative Listening: How to Elicit the Full Stories of Illness
12:15-12:45 Lunch
1:00–2:30  Narrative Works: Presentation and Response | Tavis Apramian, MS, MA, PhD and Kelley Skeff, MD, PhD
Adjournment at 2:30pm


We invite nurses, physicians, 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.

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 Irving 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. Deadline for the early bird special will be updated with the opening of registration.

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
Hammer Health Sciences Building
701 W. 168th Street
New York, NY 10032


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 14 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. 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.
14 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

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 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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For general questions, please contact Joseph Eveld at


March 8, 2019 @ 9:00 am
March 10, 2019 @ 10:30 am
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


Columbia University Irving Medical Center
701 W. 168th Street
New York, NY 10032 United States
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