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.
All BUMC Faculty
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 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.
Current & Past Participants
NWP & NWPS Participant Publications
- Bagley, S. I Am Not Burnt Out. A Piece Of My Mind. 2021
- Beard, J. Families make us who we are. What remains after they’re gone? Cognoscenti. 2023
- Beard, J. Liberty story needs nuance and empathy. Tribune Chronicle Op-ed. 2020
- Beard, J. Looking for the Mothers: Connecting Bereaved Parents with Grief Counselors in Zambia. Faculty Opinions Blog.2020
- Beard, J. Over 30 years ago, she read billboard: ‘Pregnant? We can help.’ Then she took the wrong turn. Boston Globe Opinion. 2022
- Beard, J. Teaching Public Health Writing. Oxford University Press. 2022
- Dakkak, MA. Fat Shame- Inside and Out. JAMA. 2023
- 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, MR. The Things They Carry: Veterans and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 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-Barnett, Katherine. The multitude and magnitude of coronavrius stressors on children. Boston Globe. 2020
- Gergen-Barnett, 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
- Janulewicz Lloyd, P. Vaccine Pool Grows Fight Goes. Boston Globe. 2022
- Lal, Nidhi. Musings Podcast. 2021
- Lasser, K. Emergencies. Pulse Voices from the Heart of Medicine. 2022
- Lasser, K. La Emergencia. Pulse Voices from the Heart of Medicine. 2022
- Lasser, K. The Gift of a Botched Surgery. Pulse Voices from the Heart of Medicine. 2022
- Lowery, Laura. Dr Laura Lowery’s Blog. 2021.
- Maru S. A Bowl of Oranges. JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(10):1177-1178.
- McCloskey, L, Celi, A, Bird, C. Mothers need a Continuous System of Care Even After Babies are Born | Opinion. Newsweek. 2021
- Merrill, Andrea L. Finding Faith Through Listening. JAMA. 2023
- Merrill, Andrea L. MD Free Solo Surgery, Annals of Surgery: August 2022 – Volume 276 – Issue 2 – p e77-e78
- 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. Red Cooler Bag. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021
- 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
- The call for science communication and public scholarship. Beard, J., Wang, M. & Britton, J.O.
- “Getting Started”: A Pilot Introductory Narrative Writing Session for Interprofessional Faculty in Academic Health Sciences. Remein CD, Childs E, Beard J, Demers LB, Benjamin EJ, Wingerter SL.
- Content and Outcomes of Narrative Medicine Programmes: A Systemic Review of the Literature Through 2019. Remein CD, Childs E, Pasco JC, Trinquart L, Flynn DB, Wingerter SL, Bhasin RM, Demers LB, Benjamin EJ.
- 2018 NWP Pilot Poster Presentation with References & Course Information
For more information about the NWP, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org