Read the December 2008 Columbia Alumni
This month's edition includes information about a holiday party, the Alumni Medal nominations and the unveiling of a war memorial.
Columbia University's School of Continuing Education will launch a new Master of Science degree in narrative medicine in the fall of 2009. Narrative medicine is an emerging clinical discipline that enhances the practice of doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists and other caregivers with the knowledge of how to interpret and respond to their patients' stories.
Since 2000, Columbia University's program in narrative medicine has offered workshops and events for healthcare professionals. The new Master of Science degree is the first degree offered by the program, which was founded to fill a need created by the modern, technology-driven medical system for a method of allowing patients and caregivers to voice their experiences.
"The Master of Science in narrative medicine is exactly what our field needs right now," said Dr. Rita Charon, director and founder of the program in narrative medicine. "Narrative medicine does its best to unify the bodily and personal aspects of a person in care instead of reducing a person to his or her fragmented parts. At a time when all news about health care is discouraging, this exciting event should give heart to sick people and those who care for them that patients can be heard, clinicians nourished and deep health and wellness reached."
The core curriculum of this interdisciplinary master's teaches narrative theory, close reading, reflective writing, interpretation of illness narratives and the philosophy behind developing empathetic relationships between clinicians and patients. Through supervised teaching placements in hospital and clinic settings, candidates will develop methods for teaching narrative skills to patients and evaluating their effectiveness while specialized seminars on topics such as the narratives of living and caring at the end of life will bring focus to the latest techniques in research and practice. The program can be completed in one year of full-time study or over two or more years of part-time study.
"The mission of Columbia's School of Continuing Education is to mount innovative programs that meet Columbia's standard of excellence and take the best advantage of University resources," said Peter Awn, Acting Dean of the School of Continuing Education. "This new program embodies that aspect of our mission as it adds a new dimension to the program in narrative medicine at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons."
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