Narrative Writing Program
The BUMC Narrative Writing Program (NWP): Writing from the Front Lines of Health Care, provides faculty with the opportunity to develop narrative skills and gain confidence through in-class reflective writing, close reading and discussion of literary works of various genres, and writing workshops. Such narrative training fosters writing skills and can help guide participants to share stories of their professional work with a broader audience. The NWP training can enhance professional well-being and foster compassion for self and others.
The curriculum is designed to help faculty—including clinicians, educators, scientists, and public health professionals—to engage with stories and storytelling themes at the intersection of their own lives and those of their students/trainees and the public. The program coaches participants through the process of writing and revising a narrative, which could include personal essay, fiction, poetry, op-ed, or other type of non-research writing. By the end of the course, participants will have written and revised a piece of writing suitable for submission for publication.
Applications for AY21 are now closed.
BUMC faculty (clinical, educational, and research) are eligible to apply.
Course readings include: literary fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, opinion pieces, commentaries, etc.
Current NWP participants, please click here for access to monthly readings.
- Acquire new writing competencies and self-efficacy to generate publishable narratives.
- Foster reflection and finding one’s voice for professional and personal well-being.
- Engage more empathically with patients, learners, colleagues, and self, refining skills for listening and interpreting personal narratives.
- Develop essential skills for effective leadership (emotional awareness, openness, compassion, etc.).
- Learn about the importance of storytelling for career development.
Typical sessions include:
- Experiential seminars, based on the pre-readings, involve discussions centered on writing theory and analysis of literary texts. Seminars also include spontaneous reflective writing exercises, in which participants are prompted to address significant and/or difficult experiences with patients, learners, colleagues, and/or self. Writing subsequently may be shared with the group for discussion.
- Writing workshops, in which participants have the opportunity to read their work-in-progress narratives aloud and receive peer feedback. Workshop time also may focus on applying technical skills learned from creative/reflective writing to other forms of narrative (essays, advocacy, education-focused manuscripts, etc.).
- The NWP was founded in 2018 by Christy Di Frances, PhD, MA, Sarah Wingerter, MD, and Emelia Benjamin, MD, ScM. Course Directors in AY 2019-20 are Sarah Wingerter, MD and Jennifer Beard, PhD, MPH, MA.
AY20-21 Course Dates
Narrative Writing meetings will take place on Thursdays from 4-6 pm:
- Sept 24th
- Oct 15th
- Nov 5th
- Dec 3rd
- Jan 7th
- Feb 4th
- Mar 4th
- Apr 1st
- May 6th
- Jun 3rd
Current & Past Participants
NWP & NWPS Participant Publications
- Beard, J. Looking for the Mothers: Connecting Bereaved Parents with Grief Counselors in Zambia. Faculty Opinions Blog.2020
- Carty, Senegal N. Regulatory Panel Summary: Boston University. NIH BEST Blog. 2019.
- Di Frances CD. Reading Eucalyptus: Reflections on Narrative Education in Medicine and Health Sciences. JHR. 2020
- Di Frances CD. Mildred Codding’s Humanization of Surgical Art. JSH. 2019.
- Di Frances CD. Looking Glass Land.Hektoen Int. 2018.
- Fix, Gemmae. March 9, 2020. The Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research. 2020
- Gerber, Megan R. Angry Hope: Moving Towards Healing-Centered Engagement After Trauma. CLOSLER. 2019.
- Gerber, Megan R. How Trauma-Informed Care Promotes Healing. KevinMD.com. 2019
- Gergen-Barnet, Katherine. The coming second peak of coronavrius. Boston Globe. 2020
- Gergen Barnett, Katherine. With coronavirus lurking, forgive me if I don’t shake your hand. Boston Globe. 2020
- Maru S. A Bowl of Oranges. JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(10):1177-1178.
- Mitchell, EL. The Apocalypse. NY Times. 2020
- Mitchell EL. 15 Rounds. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2018;71(2):255.
- Mitchell EL. Threads of Memory. [Online title: Dad’s old shirts provide the warm embrace of memory.] Boston Globe. 2018.
- Young ME. House Calls to Prevent Readmissions: A Win-Win. Readmissions News. 2018;7(8):1-5.
- Young ME. A Geriatrician’s Valentine. American Geriatrics Society Online. 2018.
- Narrative Writing: Selected Venues for Publication with Short Descriptions
- Some Narratives by Physicians & Scientists
- University of Oxford Style Guide (concise PDF for free download)
- BU/BMC Grant Writing & Editing Services
- Resources on HIPAA and writing about patients:
- Books on Writing:
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions for Writing and Life
- Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
- John McPhee, Draft No.4: On the Writing Process
- Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition
- Lucile Vaughan Payne, The Lively Art of Writing
- Mark Kramer, Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide
- Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
- Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools: 55 Strategies for Every Writer
- Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
- Thomas Newkirk & Lisa C. Miller, eds. The Essential Don Murray: Lessons from America’s Greatest Writing Teacher
- Tracy Kidder, Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction
- William Strunk & EB White, The Elements of Style
- William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
For more information about the NWP, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org