Narrative-Based Medicine

Using storytelling to transform healthcare

January to May 2022 — Digital Certificate Program

An Introduction to Reading, Writing, and Reflecting in Clinical Practice and Self-Care

Narrative-based medicine is premised on the understanding that, knowingly and unknowingly, practitioners and patients together construct narratives over the course of their encounters; that these stories – with their multiple characters, conflicts and desires, subtleties and miscommunications – affect the nature and meaning of health events in all our lives; and that getting better at working with stories of all kinds has a powerful impact on both patient care and physician fulfilment.

Jointly led by an expert in narrative-based medicine and an accomplished writer, both of whom have extensive experience working with health professionals, this intensive program introduces the theory and practice of narrative-based medicine and seeks to improve learners’ creative and reflective skills as writers and readers.

The program is Canada’s only virtual intensive certificate program in narrative-based clinical practice. Domestic and international learners across all disciplines are welcome.

Target Audience

Healthcare practitioners from all clinical fields and disciplines; artists interested in learning about NBM; clinicians or educators interested in bringing narrative into their work; scholars interested in the intersection of creative writing and healthcare; those working in health communications, policy or advocacy. Writers at every level are welcome.

Program Director

Allan Peterkin
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine
Head, the Program In Health, Arts and Humanities, University of Toronto

Program Faculty

Karen Gold PhD, RSW
Clinical Educator, Health, Arts & Humanities Program, University of Toronto

Damian Tarnopolsky PhD
Course Director, Narrative-Based Medicine: An Introduction to Reading, Writing, and Reflecting in Clinical Practice and Self-Care
Writer-in-Residence, Health, Arts & Humanities, University of Toronto


There are two cohorts for this program:

  • Tuesday Cohort starts on January 25th, 2022 and will run for 8 sessions. Sessions will be held from 6:00pm-8:30pm (ET).

    January 25th, February 8th, February 22nd, March 8th, March 22nd, April 5th, April 19th, May 3rd

  • Thursday Cohort starts on January 27th, 2022 and will run for 8 sessions. Sessions will be held from 6:00pm-8:30pm (ET).

    January 27th, February 10th, February 24th, March 10th, March 24th, April 7th, April 21st, May 5th,


  • Learn introductory theory and concepts of narrative-based clinical practice
  • Develop skills in narrative-based medicine through practical exercises in observation, attention, close reading, close listening, and in-class reflective writing related to clinical experiences
  • Discuss and develop ways to integrate narrative-based medicine techniques into daily clinical practice
  • Deepen craft of reflective and creative writing through writing exercises, lectures and discussion
  • Advance close reading skills via discussion of health-related and other published works in a variety of genres
  • Develop skills of respectful response and helpful editing/commentary by sharing participant work
  • Build an inter-professional community of practice, learning and teaching in order to foster person-centered care and reflective self-care


Participants in this continuing medical education offering will demonstrate improved abilities in reflectiveness, sensitivity to patients, teamwork and personal creativity, and heightened skills in close reading and reflective and creative writing.

I found the course deeply affirming in ways that I had not quite expected. It truly helped me with the overwhelm and burnout of clinical work and personal loss during challenging times. The witnessing, and honouring of emotional and psychological need within this course really counteracted for me, some of the profound moral distress that was weighing me down. I really needed this unspoken confirmation that within medicine, actual people and their psychological health, matter. I hadn’t expected the course to be so therapeutic! I really want to thank you for providing the type of safe and sacred space that you did for all of us.

I loved the materials, there are so many wonderful pieces curated here and the guest speakers were wonderful.

– Past Participant

Continuing Professional Development
Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
500 University Avenue, 6th Floor Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1V7
Tel: 416.978.2719

CPD Continuing Professional Development