"The true healer neither knows nor seeks boundaries between the arts and medicine."
- Richard A. Lippin, M.D. (President of the IAMA)

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Word.Doc, Penn’s Program in Narrative Medicine, located at the Kelly Writers House, is designed for students who are interested in writing - particularly but not exclusively writing that deals with the storytelling, the narratives and the relationships that arise in situations among doctors, patients, families, colleagues and the public. While there is a special emphasis on narrative medicine and on how we, as undergraduates, might begin to achieve the “capacity for empathy, reflection, and professionalism” (Dr. Rita Charon) by writing, discussing and sharing our own narratives, participants in this program are welcome and encouraged to write about, read and discuss anything that is of interest to them. We strongly encourage all pre-med, nursing, medical, education, engineering, math, business, law and any other students who enjoy reading, writing and ideas, and who would like to learn more about narrative medicine, to join us at our inaugural event on Tuesday, September 14 at 6:00 pm in the Arts Café of the Kelly Writers House. Pre-health students who are interested in becoming involved in this new program will learn a tremendous amount - both through our guest speakers and through our own discussions, writing, and ideas - about how narrative competence can make you better, more compassionate, more thorough healthcare professionals. Dr. Rita Charon, who invented the term “narrative medicine” and who is a leader in her field at Columbia University, has said of her experience with narrative in the field of medicine: “I couldn’t bear to stop my studies in literature, not only because I was powerfully drawn to the study of literature but also because it made the medicine make more sense. I realized that the narrative skills I was learning in my English studies made me a better doctor.”
At the Kelly Writers House, we have designed this program such that all students - students of science, medicine, English, etc. - can feel comfortable learning, discussing, writing and listening to one another in a shared, exciting, open space; this is what our program is all about! We encourage anyone who is interested in writing, but who may not have availability in their academic schedules to take writing or English courses, to come to our evening event. We will regularly be hosting guest lecturers at the Writers House, who will come to speak to us about their professional involvement in the field and the future of narrative medicine. Our program is lucky enough to have already developed a close collaboration with the pioneer of narrative medicine - Dr. Rita Charon, M.D., Ph.D., who founded and directs the renowned Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physician’s and Surgeons - as well as Professor Mary Anne Bartley, our first guest speaker and an expert on the relationship between arts and medicine; for more details about our first guest speaker, please click here. Word.Doc is designed for anyone who enjoys writing, exciting ideas and intellectual, interesting company; anyone who is interested in learning more about the burgeoning field of narrative medicine from experts in this field; any pre-health student who would like to participate in writing, sharing and discussing his/her own narratives in order to improve “narrative competence”; and anyone who wants to experience what the Kelly Writers House is about. The first-ever Word.Doc event, on September 14th at 6:00 pm at the Kelly Writers House, is free and open to the public, as are all Writers House events. We encourage anyone who has an interest in this program to browse through our website and to attend this first event! If you have any questions about Word.Doc, the Kelly Writers House or our opening event, please feel free to contact us at any time.

Questions about this page? Contact nicole.saint.louis@uphs.upenn.edu