Happy Tuesday to y'all. This time on the podcast, I chat with Dr. Rita Charon, founder and director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. Rita is a double doctor! An M.D., as well as a Ph.D. in English -- her dissertation was on Henry James. "Narrative Medicine" sounds like it might refer to medical treatments for people who just can't tell a story to save their lives. But -- and isn't this a handy reversal! -- as it turns out, telling stories might just save lives. Rita talks about how "narrative competence" can help improve doctor-patient relations, the quality of service, and the effectiveness of medical teams. I think you'll agree she's really pretty cool. I think this photo of her captures her lively spirit. (I grabbed the photo from this website, and it's (c) 2003 by V. Hevern.) We spoke over tea at her writing studio, which has a lovely view of the Empire State Building -- it was lit up in red, white and blue that evening for the election.
The Program in Narrative Medicine has classes for med students, but they also have a series of monthly public talks called "Narrative Medicine Rounds" -- a fantastic lineup of authors, artists, activists and others. They just had Harlen Coben speak last week, and coming up in the next couple months are Virgil Wong and Sharon Olds. All those talks are open to the public. The schedule, and links to audio recordings of the talks, are available here.
Thanks for listening!