Medicine Beyond Medication Symposium

Date: October 18, 2019 9:00 AM

Mountain Area Health and Education Center (MAHEC) in partnership with Western Carolina Medical Society and Lenoir-Rhyne University, will host an inaugural narrative healthcare symposium, Friday Oct. 18, to Saturday, Oct. 19, in Asheville, North Carolina. The event, funded by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, is tailored to healthcare practitioners in surgery, general practice, nursing, counseling, and public health to learn how story defines their work and how it can support their emotional well-being.

At 7 p.m, Oct. 18, physician and literary scholar Dr. Rita Charon will be the distinguished guest. Charon is the founder of the Narrative Medicine program at Columbia University in New York and also the 2019 Jefferson Scholar of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is the author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness and Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics. Her work has influenced many institutions to incorporate narrative medicine into clinical education. After attending the narrative medicine trainings at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Laura Hope-Gill of Lenoir-Rhyne University launched the online Narrative Healthcare Certificate program, offering a composite of narrative medicine, medical humanities, expressive writing, and poetic medicine.

On Saturday October 19, a panel of practitioners from across all fields of healthcare will tell their experiences of using story in their work. All panelists were trained through Lenoir-Rhyne’s narrative healthcare program. Thoracic surgeon and author Daniel J. Waters launched his own program at the Mason Clinic in Mason City, Iowa. According to Waters, he started the program after he discovered the benefits of incorporating narrative practice into saving lives.

Breakout sessions based on the area of practice will follow the panel. Each session will present the evidence-based practices Charon formulated with her team at Columbia University. These practices prepare clinicians to listen, attend to, interpret, metabolize, and be moved by stories. In addition to being proven to improve outcomes, narrative practice also reduces burn-out and moral injury.

Dr. Jeff Heck, MAHEC chief executive officer, will present a lunch keynote, sharing how he includes story both in his medical practice and medical education. The afternoon will conclude with several sessions addressing topics in the healthcare industry.