NARRATIVE MEDICINE/MEDICAL HUMANITIES IN EDUCATION AND PRACTICE
In respected institutions throughout the U.S., narrative medicine initiatives play an important role in 21st-century medical education and practice.
What follows is a representative sampling of such initiatives, beginning with institutions near the University of Delaware, which hosts this website as a community service.
The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University offers a narrative medicine program headed by Michael Vitez, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer on how people face death. The program focuses on reflective writing, including sample stories published by Temple faculty and students, individual and group projects, a speaker series, workshops, story slams, and a literary magazine.
Penn State College of Medicine was the first medical school in the country to establish a department of medical humanities (1967), which offers required courses in each year of medical training. Among other things, Penn State College of Medicine also sponsors projects including art, music, and creative writing; a physician writers group; and an annual journal of faculty and student writing.
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University has a humanities and health program that offers a certificate open to Jefferson students. Additional activities include a theatre-based Empathy Program, a weekly reading group, and a speaker series.
The medical humanities program at Drexel University College of Medicine sponsors speakers, courses, special events, and a certificate program for Drexel students.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine won a 2019 Distinguished Chapter Award from the Gold Foundation for the activities of its Gold Humanism Honor Society. Similar societies are active in numerous medical schools, including those at Drexel, Thomas Jefferson, Temple, and Penn State.
The narrative medicine initiative at Johns Hopkins offers monthly multidisciplinary narrative medicine workshops (art, music, reflective writing, literature) for health care professionals, as well as dedicated workshops in specific departments.
The University of Maryland medical school houses a Writing for Wellness initiative in its Center for Integrative Medicine.
New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University has a Center for Humanism, which, among other things, sponsors a Humanism Day and Students for Humanism in Medicine.
The Cooper Medical School at Rowan University has a Center for Humanism, Professionalism, Medical Ethics, and Law. They also run mandatory medical humanities classes for first and second year students.
New York City:
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation “works with healthcare professionals to ensure that compassion, respect and empathy are at the core of all healthcare interactions.” Established in 1988 by Columbia professors Arnold and Sandra Gold, its best-known innovation is the white coat ceremony, held for the first time in 1993. The foundation encourages reflective writing through an annual essay contest for medical and nursing students (due date in mid-March.) It also maintains a database of research on humanistic medical care, and a database of practical applications of humanism.
Columbia faculty also provided leadership for the fledgling narrative medicine movement in 2000, and Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies now offers a certificate in narrative medicine conducted entirely online, as well as a master’s in narrative medicine, narrative medicine rounds, weekend workshops, and podcasts.
In addition to offering an intensive elective course in medical humanities, NYU Langone maintains a database in medical humanities as well as a database in literature, arts, and medicine. NYU Langone also publishes a newsletter and is associated with the Bellevue Literary Review.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center offers Visible Ink, a program in which professional writers mentor MSK patients seeking guidance with their own writing. Each year, Visible Ink publishes an anthology of participant writing, as well as hosting a staged reading of selected works.
Sample Programs Elsewhere:
Georgetown University hosts an online course, Interacting with the Medical Humanities.
In addition to a Division of Medical Humanities and Bioethics that offers medical humanities seminars, the University of Rochester medical school has a required program in mindful practice for medical students and residents. It’s headed by Ronald Epstein, author of Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity.
The University of Arizona’s college of medicine offers a program in narrative medicine and health humanities, including a certificate in health humanities, editorial positions in related publications, mentored research, a film series, and a book club.
The University of Nevada (Reno)’s medical school offers a scholarly concentration in narrative medicine, including close reading and reflective writing.
Harvard’s medical humanities program offers courses, museum exhibits, programs, and a journal.
The University of Kentucky medical school offers one-on-one narrative medicine opportunities to inpatients and their families.
Among the numerous other medical schools with narrative medicine programs are Baylor, Brigham and Women’s, University of Central Florida, University of California San Francisco, University of Utah, Portland Community College, and the University of Chicago — a representative sample chosen to illustrate the diversity of institutions that have such programs. In addition, physicians in Portland, Oregon, have established the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative, and the creative writing program at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina offers a certificate in narrative healthcare. Clearly, this is an idea whose time has come.