Dr. Rita Charon

Rita Charon
Her work in narrative medicine shows how telling and listening to stories is central to the work of doctors and their patients.

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 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Charon took a Ph.D. in English when she realized how important telling and listening to stories is to the work of doctors.

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 research projects focus 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 a National Institutes of Health 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 author of “Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness.”