Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative


Signal & Noise: Scribing in the Margins

With support from the Mellon Foundation, Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative (NWNMC) is developing Narrative Scribe Training. Titled Signal & Noise: Scribing in the Margins, the curriculum builds on narrative medicine practices of listening and witnessing.


In February 2022, 64 L&C undergraduates and community members attended Narrative Scribe Training. The 23 community participants included Oregon Health and Science University medical students, Northwest Acute Care Specialists medical scribes, and University of Washington undergraduates. The L&C undergraduates came primarily from a Narrative Medicine practicum and a Public Health course.

The mix of community, healthcare, and undergraduate participants offered new perspectives. In the coming year, training will be offered to more community participants from other health professional schools and graduate programs in the northwest region.

Curriculum Approach 

After a successful program pilot in February 2021, NWNMC refined the learning objectives and focused the event into an evening and one full-day of training.

Refined Program Objectives

Improved Equity Framework

Based on year one participant survey feedback, NWNMC strengthened the training’s equity framework in year two by including more BIPOC voices in curriculum planning. The pedagogy for discussing race bias in healthcare was re-conceived to center participant’s positionality in relation to, and more choice about how to engage in, the challenging material at hand. 

Narrative Scribe Training Year 2 Program Findings

In a year 2 post-training survey completed by 31 of 64 participants, feedback showed that the revised learning objectives were successful, and that Narrative Scribe Training was personally impactful for many.


of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they understand what it means to say that listening is an action rather than a neutral act.

“I was surprised the range of people involved - many outside of healthcare. I also strongly appreciated the diversity of backgrounds represented.”

–Narrative Scribe Training Participant, February 2022

“I will take skills

…that I will be able to integrate into my relationships: skills of deep listening, undivided presence, and clear witnessing of the other.”

–Narrative Scribe Training Participant, February 2022



of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they recognize how the tools of listening and witnessing can help to build a system of trust.

“An incredible experience.”

–Narrative Scribe Training Participant, February 2022

“I felt comfortable

…sharing in my small group, because I felt welcomed.”

–Narrative Scribe Training Participant, February 2022

“The feeling of solidarity

…and community in the (Zoom) room, the reminder that positionally affects every encounter and exchange with another, the knowledge that listening is active, not passive, excitement that narrative medicine is so interdisciplinary, and the feeling of reading someone’s words back to them. There are so many things that I will take from Narrative Scribe Training.”

–Narrative Scribe Training Participant, February 2022


of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed they felt confident to use the tools learned to listen and witness stories more expansively.

“Expanded my outlook

... on the future of health, and for the first time, there is a sense of excitement at the possibilities.”

–Narrative Scribe Training Participant, February 2022

“It inspired me continue with the sciences with more trust that what I learn will actually have application to the things I care about eventually. It gave me hope.”

–Participant, 2021 Narrative Scribe Training


In February 2021 and 2022, Narrative Scribe Training was held in a virtual format due to the ongoing pandemic. In year 3, we are planning for an in-person training to take place on the Lewis & Clark Campus early in February 2023.  

Interested in participating? Check this space for more detailed registration and program information. or reach out to Alexis, our Community Engagement Coordinator, who is also a member of the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative, with any inquiries. 


Learning to Listen to Patient’s Stories

Narrative medicine programs teach doctors and other caregivers “sensitive interviewing skills” and the art of “radical listening” to improve patient care. The New York Times reports in this story that narrative medicine is now taught in some form at roughly 80 percent of medical schools in the United States.

Bringing Empathy to Health Care Through Narrative Scribe Training

L&C’s Center for Community and Global Health offers Narrative Scribe Training, which emphasizes the importance of listening and storytelling to health care teams.
   Dr. Pamela Schaff discusses narrative medicine at USC?s Keck School of Medicine as Chioma Mone...

How Doctors Use stories to Cope with COVID

Narrative Medicine is a discipline in which doctors and nurses use the principles of literature and art to better understand patients’ stories and incorporate them into their practices, by asking many questions and carefully listening to their patient’s answers. 

In Los Angeles, Narrative Medicine is now being taught at USC Keck School of Medicine and at the new Kaiser Permanente medical school.

Read the LA Times coverage

Narrative Medicine: The Lost Art Of Active Listening

Narrative medicine is the practice of listening, absorbing, metabolizing and being moved to action by stories of wellness and disease. When put into practice, this involves treating a patient as a whole person, rather than just as their illness.

Read the full story by Aidan D’Anna on the LC Pioneer Log.

VIDEO: How the Humanities Can Save Humanity

Panel Discussion Presented by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month (#NAHM), Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, moderated a wide-ranging discussion with artists Mel Chin and Allison Janae Hamilton and writer-photographer Emily Raboteau about how the humanities are tackling the interconnected challenges of climate change, public health, and racial injustice, among other pressing social justice issues.

The Lewis & Clark College Center for Community and Global Health is supported in part by a Mellon Foundation grant, Healing Social Suffering Through Narrative. 

Connect with the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative

The Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative welcomes patients, health care professionals, clinicians, caregivers, writers, artists, and scholars in the practice of Narrative Medicine.