Narrative Medicine: The Story, Health, and Healing Initiative

“Narrative medicine makes the case that narrative training in reading and writing contributes to clinical effectiveness.”
                                                                                                                                Rita Charon

Narrative Medicine: The Story, Health, and Healing Initiative brings together faculty, students, health care professionals, writers, and artists at Wake Forest University and the broader community to critically examine, teach and reflect upon the practice of narrative medicine as well as the roles of story, writing, and art in health and healing. Programming draws on academic and experiential knowledge, and responds to the national call for inter-professional education by creating opportunities for faculty, providers and students across the health care professions and contexts to interact and explore the integration of narrative into health education and practice. In addition to welcoming the participation and contributions of cross-disciplinary faculty and centers at Wake Forest University, the initiative invites the collaboration of community partners, including Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the Sawtooth School for Visual Art, and the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne College.

Narrative Medicine: The Story, Health, and Healing Initiative sponsors a range of activities, including:
1. guest speakers
2. reading/writing circles
3. workshops in narrative medicine
4. faculty development opportunities

Click here to view the Story, Health, and Healing Initiative brochure.

Spring 2017 Events

Friday, February 17
Narrative Medicine Lunch & Learn
525@Vine, PA Studies Classroom

The Narrative Medicine Lunch & Learn event, supported by the Humanities Institute’s Story, Health, and Healing Initiative, is a monthly, informal workshop group to introduce any interested students and faculty (pre-health, liberal arts, PA, medical, CRNA, bioethics) to the principles of narrative medicine. Workshops focus on close reading and reflective writing. Readings will be made available prior to the session, and lunch will be provided.

The facilitator for this first meeting is Aimee Mepham, MFA, Assistant Director of the WFU Humanities Institute.

Click here for more information and to register by February 15th.

Rounding With… Terrence Holt
Tuesday, April 18
Time and Location TBA

Terrence Holt taught literature and writing at Rutgers University and Swarthmore College for a decade before attending medical school. Many of these stories have appeared in different forms in literary journals and prize anthologies, including the Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Zoetrope, Bookforum, and the O. Henry Prize Stories. A contributing editor for Men’s Health, Holt teaches and practices medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.



Fall 2016 Events

Story, Health, and Healing: A Symposium on Narrative in Medicine
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Registration at 9:00am, Reception at 4:00pm
Benson University Center
Reynolda Campus
Wake Forest University
Winston Salem, North Carolina

This interdisciplinary symposium presents a broad look at narrative medicine with opening and closing keynote lectures, break-outs and workshops, and a theatre plenary session. Led by faculty, staff, and students at Wake Forest University, Forsyth Hospital, and UNC Chapel Hill. Sessions will fall under three categories: narrative in clinical practice, curriculum and teaching, and honing practices of listening, observation, and storytelling. Also featured is a poster gallery that will remain open throughout the day: “Show & Tell: Journeys Through Medicine.”

Symposium Home Page

Register Now!

Spring 2016 Events

Faculty-Student Reading Groups in the Humanities

Spring 2016: The Role of Stories in Medicine

Because physician and writer Louise Aronson will be visiting campus to give a keynote lecture at WFU’s Aging Re-Imagined Symposium (March 17-18th), the Institute is offering reading groups on Aronson’s collection of short stories, A History of the Present Illness, which “explores the role of stories in medicine and creates a world pulsating with life, speaking truths about what makes us human” (

Facilitators: Simone Caron (History), and Tanya Gregory (WFU School of Medicine, PA Studies Program)
The Humanities Institute supports faculty-student co-curricular reading groups in order to give small groups of faculty and students (undergraduates, or a combination of graduates and undergraduates) the opportunity to engage in co-curricular study of select interdisciplinary topics in the humanities. Formerly called Collegiate Seminars, the groups are informal, noncredit reading or activity groups comprised of a faculty member and a core group of four or more students who agree to meet at least three times over the course of a semester or summer. Topics vary and can be related to a campus event. The Institute provides faculty a modest stipend in recognition of their involvement as well as funding to defray the cost of materials.

Louise Aronson, MD, MFA
Keynote Speaker at Wake Forest University’s Aging Re-Imagined Symposium
“What We Talk About When We Talk About Old Age (and How Stories Can Help Us Re-Imagine Aging)”
Friday, March 18, 2016
2:45 – 4:00 PM
Bridger Fieldhouse

Dr. Aronson is Professor of Geriatrics at University of California-San Francisco where she is Chief of Geriatrics Education and directs the Optimizing Aging Program, and cares for patients through the Care at Home Program. She also holds an MFA in writing, and directs the UCSF Medical Humanities Program. She is the author of the celebrated “A History of the Present Illness,” and publishes regularly in newspapers, medical and literary journals. Her scholarly work focuses on geriatrics and aging, reflective learning, and public medical writing. She has developed innovative programs for geriatrics training for non-geriatricians, interprofessional education, reflection in medical education, and use of writing to harness the expertise and unique experiences of clinicians and medical scientists in service of health and health care.

The WFU Humanities Institute is one of the sponsors of WFU’s Aging Re-Imagined Symposium, which will take place on the Wake Forest campus March 17-18, 2016 and will bring faculty, staff, students, and members of the Winston-Salem community together to discuss the topic of aging from many perspectives. Leading scholars, artists, medical professionals and researchers whose work focuses on this vital, intersectional topic will be here to share their insight on four key ideas that inform how we age, and how we think and feel about aging: Mobility, Mind (including memory), Mortality, and Meaning.

Beyond Looking: Observation in the Arts, the Humanities, and Medicine
Saturday, April 30th
Sawtooth School for Visual Art

Instructors: Aimee Mepham and Terry Schupbach-Gordon


In this workshop, students will sharpen their observational skills in viewing art and reading texts. Local printmaker Terry Schupbach-Gordon will discuss several pieces on view at Sawtooth in the New Impressions Printmaking Exhibit, delving beyond the surface of the works to illustrate how the prints were made and the reasons behind certain techniques. Fiction writer Aimee Mepham will then lead students in a discussion about narrative medicine, introducing the concepts of close reading. Students will read a selection of stories and poems and participate in reflective writing exercises. The workshop will end with a creation of a journal that students can take home.

Medical students, PA studies students, medical school faculty, and local practitioners are encouraged to register.

Fall 2015 Events

Story, Health, and Healing Reading Circle
The Story, Health, and Healing Reading Circle provides an opportunity for faculty from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine to meet together every six weeks to explore the relationships between close reading, reflective writing, and clinical practice. Participants will discuss several pieces of writing and the ways in which they influence how the participants think about their lives and their practice. The group will discuss Louise Aronson’s short story collection, The History of the Present Illness during the fall meetings. Sessions will be facilitated by Aimee Mepham (MFA, Program Coordinator, WFU Humanities Institute).
The reading circle is currently full, but watch for announcements about future groups.

Center for Bioethics, Health, and Society Fall Lecture Series
This fall’s Center for Bioethics, Health, and Society lecture series features visiting speakers whose work illustrates the varied uses of narrative and viewpoint in bioethics. All events will be held in the WFU Z. Smith Reynolds Library Auditorium, Room 404 from 5:00-6:00pm with a reception to follow.

September 8 
Personal Narratives & Bioethics: Intersex Stories
Ana Iltis, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, and Director of The Center for Bioethics, Health & Society, Wake Forest University

September 22
The Grand Inquisitor: Toward an Ethics of Medical Narrative
Terrence Holt, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Social Medicine & Director of Literature, Medicine, UNC School of Medicine – Chapel Hill

October 6
Narrating Bioethics through Feminist Modes of Thinking
Rosemarie Tong, PhD, MA, Professor Emerita of Philosophy, University of North Carolina – Charlotte

November 3
The Authority of the Ethics Consultant
Kenneth Kipnis, PhD, Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of Hawaii – Manoa & Visiting Professor at the College of Charleston

Narrative Medicine: The Story, Health, and Healing Steering Committee

Mollie Rose Canzona, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication
Wake Forest University
Department of Social Sciences & Health Policy
Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Cancer Prevention & Control Program
Wake Forest Baptist NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Sean E. Ervin, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Wake Forest School of Medicine

Dean Franco, PhD
Director, Wake Forest University Humanities Institute
Director, Jewish Studies Minor
Professor, English

Jill P. Grant, PA-C, MMS, MS
Director of Clinical Education
Assistant Professor
Department of Physician Assistant Studies
Wake Forest School of Medicine

Tanya Gregory, PhD (co-chair)
Assistant Professor
Director of Student Services
Director of the Writing Center
Department of Physician Assistant Studies
Wake Forest School of Medicine

Sobia Shariff Hussaini, MHA
Assistant Professor & Director of Academic Practice Partnerships
Department of Physician Assistant Studies
Wake Forest School of Medicine

Ellen Kesler, MLS, MPH, CPH
Continuing Education Coordinator
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Northwest Area Health Education Center (AHEC)

Richard P. McQuellon, Ph.D.
Professor, Hematology & Oncology
Comprehensive Cancer Center
Center for Integrative Medicine
Family & Community Medicine
Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine

Aimee Mepham, MFA (co-chair)
Assistant Director
Wake Forest University Humanities Institute

K. Patrick Ober, MD
Professor of Internal Medicine – Endocrinology & Metabolism
Wake Forest School of Medicine

Marcia Wofford, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Dean of Student Affairs
Wake Forest School of Medicine