Columbia’s Narrative Medicine program offers an optional independent study or capstone project that offers a wide range of opportunities for mentored work. The project is based on the student’s past experience and future professional or academic goals; it provides an opportunity for in-depth investigation of a topic of interest. Examples: creative writing; visual art projects; scholarly theses; curriculum, program design, or program evaluation projects; and articles.
Narrative Medicine program alums share their projects:
Stephanie Francalancia (’22SPS), Medical Illustrator at Eko
Field Notes from Nepal, a Burn Care Research Project:
"For my capstone, I wrote a field notes piece about a series of narrative medicine workshops that I hosted while working with surgeons in Nepal on a burn care research project. My reflections followed the challenges and surprises I encountered while designing a few workshops for general, plastic, and burn trauma surgeons at the Kathmandu Hospital—specifically through the eyes of one of the doctors I worked closely with while on the trip. I feel like this project was a great wrap-up and form of creative reflection on my time in the Narrative Medicine program. After getting to use practices from the practicum in my real life at this hospital, I enjoyed using this capstone to expand on my writing from that trip and, most important, to share the power of narrative medicine. I’ll be submitting a piece on my project to Intima for their fall issue.” (SU22 SUPERVISOR: Mario de la Cruz)
Alyson Lee (’22SPS), M.D. Candidate at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Experiences with a Chronic, “Mysterious” Illness, a Memoir
I intentionally wrote in a mixed poetry-and-prose format and included graphics in the project as well. This allowed me to break out of narrative norms that previously failed to capture the complexity of my illness—an illness that has been largely nonlinear and unnamed. The project was, in many ways, an exploration of the patient narrative: how to write about an illness experience that falls outside narrative structures, what experiences of illness are commonly left out of illness narratives, what stories count as “illness narratives.” I am extremely grateful for the project and the opportunity to work with Jenessa. I grew tremendously as a writer, and it allowed me space to explore narrative structures and the real impacts they can have on people. (SP22 SUPERVISOR: Jenessa Abrams)
Sadie Goodman (’22SPS), Clinical Research Coordinator at Northwell Health
Poetry for Healers, an Anthology:
“My capstone project was the creation of a poetry anthology entitled Poetry for Healers. This anthology includes submitted poems from contemporary poets and healers and additional poems I selected from the numerous collections I acquired thanks to the Summer 2022 SPS Academic & Professional Developmental Grant. I organized the poems in the anthology by theme, some of which include “Lessons in Listening,” “Ode to the Selfless Healer,” and “On Cancer.” For each section, I wrote a few pages of detailed poetic analysis, addressing some of the technical aspects of why I believe these poems work. By deconstructing and discussing the formal elements of the poems, I hope to inspire confidence and excitement in readers unfamiliar with poetry and make poems feel more approachable.” (SU22 SUPERVISOR: Nathaniel Rosenthalis)
About the Program
Columbia University’s Master of Science in Narrative Medicine prepares health professionals, writers, and scholars to apply the skills and values of narrative understanding to improve outcomes for both patients and caregivers. It offers a rigorous and in-depth study of close reading of creative texts, illness and disability narratives, narrative ethics, philosophy, creative writing, and other perspectives.
Fall 2023 application deadlines for the M.S. in Narrative Medicine program are March 15 for applicants with international documents and June 15 for the final deadline. Learn more here.