Narrative medicine is an interdisciplinary field that brings powerful narrative skills of radical listening and creativity from the humanities and the arts to address the needs of all who seek and deliver health care. Narrative medicine enables patients and caregivers to voice their experience, to be heard, to be recognized, and to be valued, improving and humanizing the delivery of health care.

Narrative medicine proposes that the goals of health care include social justice, recognition of the whole persons who care and are cared for, and the development of trust and self-discovery within committed clinical relationships. The Narrative Medicine Certification of Professional Achievement program fulfills these objectives by educating a leadership corps of health professionals, writers, and scholars who seek to imbue patient care and professional education with the skills and values of narrative understanding.

This new program is developed specifically for students who seek ways to bring narrative methods into their clinical or teaching practices. This program introduces students to the principles and practice of narrative medicine through rigorous courses leading to intellectual growth, interpersonal relationships, and personal insight. Students will practice designing and evaluating narrative training interventions in clinical settings. Those who complete the Certification Program gain the equivalent of six credits toward the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine, should they elect to continue their professional study of narrative medicine.

Taught by Columbia University Narrative Medicine faculty, each course combines multimedia presentations, weekly creative assignments, and collaborative activities to build skills in the clinical and personal aspects of narrative medicine.

Offered part-time for working professionals, the Certification of Professional Achievement in Narrative Medicine is a fully online program. Students are required to participate in a non-credit Narrative Medicine workshop during the spring term. While students are strongly encouraged to attend the workshop in-person, those unable to do so may participate virtually.

The courses are asynchronous, with no required meeting time. Students have the flexibility of accessing course materials, lectures, and assignments within a specific weekly frame that works with their schedules. Students interact in discussion groups and forums, participate in collaborative and independent coursework, and learn from prerecorded videos. They have access to world-class instruction by Columbia faculty, career and professional development, and personal feedback on written assignments.

Upon Completion

You will join the leaders of a developing field, studying at the institution that pioneered the discipline of narrative medicine. Research shows that the practice of narrative medicine can improve the quality of healthcare, and our students are positioned to champion narrative medicine practice in medical schools and hospitals and to evaluate the impact of these programs on clinical practice and quality of care. They will become members of the Columbia Narrative Medicine community equipped with skills to generate narrative work and to uphold and promote Columbia’s standards for the intellectual, clinical, and research work of narrative medicine, with the experience that can also serve as a stepping stone to further study.


Who Should Apply

  • Healthcare trainees in all clinical disciplines
  • Professionals who work in the healthcare system
  • Students or alumni of graduate programs in literature, writing and health journalism, oral history, and medical anthropology and other social sciences who want to understand illness and disability in their own scholarly activities or to help teach healthcare professionals

Additional program option in Narrative Medicine

Master of Science in Narrative Medicine

With the academic study of Narrative Medicine, you will be a pioneer in a field committed to improving the quality of healthcare worldwide.

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