Narrative Writing Program

The Narrative Writing Program (NWP) 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 essays, fiction, poetry, op-ed, or other types 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.

Course directors: Sarah Wingerter, MD , and Jennifer Beard, PhD, MPH, MA.

AY24 Applications are now closed.

Eligible Participants
All BUMC Faculty

Time Commitment:
10 sessions September to June, Thursdays via zoom from 5-7 pm:

  • AY24 Dates
    • September 14th, 2023
    • October 5th, 2023
    • November 2nd, 2023
    • December 7th, 2023
    • January 11th, 2024
    • February 8th, 2024
    • March 7th, 2024
    • April 4th, 2024
    • May 2nd, 2024
    • June 6th, 2024

Course Readings
Course readings include: literary fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, opinion pieces, commentaries, etc. Current NWP participants, please click here for access to monthly readings.

Course Objectives

  • 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.

Course Structure

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.

For more information about the NWP, please contact us at