Rita Charon is a general internist and literary scholar at Columbia University who originated the field of narrative medicine. She is Professor of Medicine and founder and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia.



Please JOIN US in Winnipeg, Manitoba as we gather to explore the deeper role of the arts and humanities in Canadian Medical Education.

The conference will officially begin on Friday, April 28th at 3pm with a keynote address by Dr. Rita Charon.

We are deeply grateful to our friends at the Compassion Project for making Dr. Charon’s attendance at our conference a reality.

Following Dr. Charon’s presentation, there will be a plenary panel and a welcoming reception.  There will be additional arts-related activities on Friday evening including film and dramatic presentations.

On Saturday, April 29th, the conference will take place from 8:00 – 4:00.

A circuit of workshops will occur from approximately 8:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Dr. Rita Charon will conduct a workshop open to ALL participants from approximately 10:30 – 12:00.

After lunch, there will be a combination of plenaries, panels, short presentations and additional workshops, with the formal program TBA.

We expect that our final program will be announced by mid-March.

We are delighted to announce two further notable guests who will address us at Creating Space 2017:



Barbara Sibbald, an award-winning health journalist and author of two nonfiction books and two novels, has published extensively in magazines and newspapers, such as the Ottawa Citizen, the Toronto Star, Chatelaine and the Globe and Mail. She began working at CMAJ in 1998 as an associate editor in the news department and became editor of that department in 2003. Articles that she coauthored were twice cited for the Michener Award for meritorious public service in journalism. Her work has also been recognized with the Canadian Association of Journalists’ investigative journalism prize (2006), as well as two gold awards for breaking news from the Canadian Business Press. Two of her short stories were nominated for the Journey Prize in fiction writing.


Shane Neilson was born in New Brunswick. He attended the University of New Brunswick, where he completed his BSc. He obtained his MD from Dalhousie University, his MFA from the University of Guelph, and is currently a PhD candidate at McMaster University. Neilson is the author of five collections of poetry, and a two-time winner of the Arc Poetry Magazine Poem of the Year Award.


We are thrilled to announce that with the generous support of our colleagues at the Compassion Project, Dr. Rita Charon will headline CS 2017!


Rita Charon is a general internist and literary scholar at Columbia University who originated the field of narrative medicine. She is Professor of Medicine and founder and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia.

She completed an M.D. at Harvard in 1978 and a Ph.D. in English at Columbia in 1999, concentrating on the works of Henry James. Her research focuses on the consequences of narrative medicine practice, reflective clinical practice, and health care team effectiveness.

At Columbia, she directs the Foundations of Clinical Practice faculty seminar, the Narrative and Social Medicine Scholarly Projects Concentration Track, the required Narrative Medicine curriculum for the medical school, and Columbia Commons: Collaborating Across Professions, a medical-center-wide partnership devoted to health care team effectiveness.

She inaugurated and teaches in the Master of Science in Narrative Medicine graduate program at Columbia. She has lectured or served as Visiting Professor at many medical schools and universities in the US and abroad, teaching narrative medicine theory and practice. She has received a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and research funding from the NIH, the NEH, the American Board of Integral Medicine, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and several additional private foundations.

She has published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, Narrative, Henry James Review, Partial Answers, and Literature and Medicine.


She is the author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (Oxford University Press, 2006) and co-author of Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2017). She is co-editor of Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics (Routledge, 2002) and Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine (SUNY Press, 2008). She is working on a book about creativity and doubt in the sciences and the arts.



Creating Space (CS) is an annual meeting exploring the evolving use of arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) in healthcare education. Over the last six years, CS has become an annual summit where scholars, artists and practitioners gather to discuss how to cultivate the best and most humanistic characteristics of health care professionals.   A recent trend in medical education is the strong emphasis on Professionalism.  This has occasionally been misinterpreted as a call to leave one’s personhood and subjective experience at the door.   This meeting will focus on how the AHSS methods and inquiry can be used to achieve greater personal self-awareness and reflexivity on the part of the practitioner, with a view to the development of greater insight into and access to one’s personhood  and humanity in both the clinical and intraprofessional encounter.


Recognizing the emerging role of AHSS approaches and interdisciplinary scholarship, CSVII will provide an inclusive forum attending to the challenges and opportunities of incorporating these into health professions education. The proposed one-and-a-half day program will highlight keynote addresses, short papers, panel presentations and poster sessions. Participatory workshops, performance sessions and networking opportunities will complement attendees’ experience.


CSVII seeks to include the ever-growing number of scholars, educators, artists and practitioners from multiple disciplines whose work at the intersections of AHSS and clinical spheres inspires health professions education in Canada and abroad. Student participation from AHSS disciplines and health professions is strongly encouraged.   In recognition of Manitoba’s rich history of Indigenous artistic achievement, a significant portion of time will be dedicated to the Indigenous narrative.

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