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Sept. 21: narrative medicine expert speaks about importance of dialogue between patient and doctor

Sep 18, 2015

Dr. Rita Charon, a clinical medicine professor at Columbia University, will visit Bellarmine University to deliver a public lecture on narrative medicine - a discipline pursuing the convergence of literature, healthcare and ethics - on Monday, September 21.

The free lecture takes place at 7 p.m. in the George G. Brown Center’s Frazier Hall. [campus map]

“My colleagues and I at Columbia created a field that we called narrative medicine, which we defined very simply as clinical practice fortified by the knowledge of what to do with stories,” explained Charon in a 2011 TEDx Talk.

Article continues below video.

"Sick people need physicians who can understand their diseases, treat their medical problems, and accompany them through their illnesses,” she wrote in a 2001 paper for The Journal of the American Medical Association. “Despite medicine's recent dazzling technological progress in diagnosing and treating illnesses, physicians sometimes lack the capacities to recognize the plights of their patients, to extend empathy toward those who suffer, and to join honestly and courageously with patients in their illnesses.”

Charon is a professor of clinical medicine and director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A general internist with a primary care practice in Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Charon pursued a Ph.D. in English after observing the importance of telling and listening to stories by doctors and patients. She teaches literature and narrative ethics, both in the medical center and Columbia's English department.

She is currently principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health project to enhance the teaching of social science and behavioral science in medical schools. Her work in narrative medicine has been recognized by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American College of Physicians, the Society for Health and Human Values, the American Academy on Healthcare Communication and the Society of General Internal Medicine. 

Charon is author of “Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness” and co-editor of “Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine and Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics.”
Charon delivers TEDx talk.

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