Rita Charon

Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Rita Charon is 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 took a Ph.D. in English when she realized how central is telling and listening to stories to the work of doctors and patients. She directs the Narrative Medicine curriculum for Columbia's medical school and teaches literature, narrative ethics, and life-telling, both in the medical center and Columbia's Department of English. Her literary scholarship focuses on the novels and tales of Henry James. Her research projects center on the outcomes of training health care professionals in narrative competence and the development of narrative clinical routines to increase the capacity for clinical recognition in medical practice. She is currently Principal Investigator on an NIH 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. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residence and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. She has published and lectured extensively on the ways in which narrative training helps to increase empathy and reflection in health professionals and students. She 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.