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Rita Charon

Rita Charon is a general internist and literary scholar at Columbia University who originated the field of narrative medicine. She is Professor of Medicine and founder and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia.

She completed an M.D. at Harvard in 1978 and a Ph.D. in English at Columbia in 1999, concentrating on the works of Henry James. Her research focuses on the consequences of narrative medicine practice, reflective clinical practice, and health care team effectiveness.

At Columbia, she directs the Foundations of Clinical Practice faculty seminar, the Narrative and Social Medicine Scholarly Projects Concentration Track, the required Narrative Medicine curriculum for the medical school, and Columbia Commons: Collaborating Across Professions, a medical-center-wide partnership devoted to health care team effectiveness.

She inaugurated and teaches in the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine graduate program at Columbia. She has lectured or served as Visiting Professor at many medical schools and universities in the US and abroad, teaching narrative medicine theory and practice. She has received a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and research funding from the NIH, the NEH, the American Board of Integral Medicine, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and several additional private foundations.

She has published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, Narrative, Henry James Review, Partial Answers, and Literature and Medicine.

She is the author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (Oxford University Press, 2006) and co-author of Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2017). She is co-editor of Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics (Routledge, 2002) and Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine (SUNY Press, 2008). She is working on a book about creativity and doubt in the sciences and the arts.

Rita Charon at TEDxAtlanta