Storytelling in Medicine Program

Woman holding microphone

Storytelling in Medicine Program

It has been said that humans are the storytelling animal—that our ability to tell, hear, and share stories is integral to who we are. The Center for the Art of Medicine’s (CFAM) Storytelling in Medicine Program (led by Dr. Ben Trappey, Dr. Anthony Williams, and Dr. Maren Olson) recognizes that stories are one of the most powerful ways for us to connect, empathize, and heal. 

Our purpose is to promote the creation and sharing of stories about the lived experiences of healthcare workers and patients. We recognize that societal inequities persist via the stories we elevate and the stories we marginalize, and healthcare is no exception. Thus, true transformation must incorporate the voices of marginalized communities and historically disenfranchised groups to explore themes of inclusion and bias in medicine. 

The Storytelling in Medicine Program provides time, space, and techniques for those interested in becoming more effective storytellers. We organize, facilitate, and host:

  • Story Slams
  • Reflective Writing Electives
  • Writers’ Workshops

Story Slams

Beginning in 2018, residents, fellows, and faculty from across the Twin Cities metro area have gathered together to share stories and build community. These Story Slam events—both in-person and virtual—have become a treasured opportunity for physician trainees and attending physicians to share stories of wisdom, bravery, insight and vulnerability. 

The CFAM team has also engaged in research about the impact of storytelling events in graduate medical education, demonstrating that attendees experience a sense of connection and community, re-connection with meaning and purpose in their work, gratitude, and feelings of renewal and hope. 

Given the success of the GME storytelling events, the first annual story slam for medical students was launched in 2021. While the inaugural event was virtual due to the pandemic, we look forward to gathering together in person for future events.

Reflective Writing Electives

CFAM believes in the importance of incorporating the arts into both undergraduate and graduate medical education. We offer several formal educational opportunities and are excited to expand our offerings in the future. In addition, we will continue to partner with the Medical School curriculum team to explore additional ways to integrate the arts into the  curriculum.

Read about CFAM's course offerings here.

Writers' Workshops

CFAM hosts workshops for writers. The “Storytelling Collaborative” (for residents, fellows, and faculty) and “Prose Section” (for medical students) are monthly gatherings for those interested in developing their creative and reflective writing skills. During each session, participants read, analyze, and discuss recently published medical reflective writing pieces and then create their own personal reflections.

Facilitators: Dr. Ben Trappey, Dr. Maren Olson, Dr. Anthony Williams

Join the Storytelling Collaborative

Join the Prose Section

Selected Reflective Essay Publications

Scholarship

Journals publishing medical reflective writing