Rita Charon is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine. She is a general internist in practice in the Associates of Internal Medicine in Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Charon graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1978 and trained in internal medicine at the Residency Program in Social Medicine at Montefiore Hospital in New York. She completed the Ph.D. in the Department of English of Columbia in 1999, writing on the late works of Henry James and on literary analyses of medical texts. Dr. Charon has designed and directed Columbia’s teaching programs in medical interviewing, humanities and medicine, and narrative medicine and teaches seminars on the works of Henry James in Columbia’s English department. She has published and lectured extensively on linguistic studies of doctor-patient conversations, narrative competence in physicians and medical students, narrative ethics, and empathy in medical practice. Dr. Charon’s research has focused on doctor-patient communication, methods of teaching medical interviewing, and the outcomes of narrative training in medicine.
Dr. Charon has held national leadership positions through the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Society for Health and Human Values, the Society of General Internal Medicine, and the American College of Physicians. She is a member of the founding faculty of the Certificate Program in Ethics and Humanities sponsored by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She has been the recipient of a Henry J. Kaiser General Internal Medicine Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Scholar-in-Residence position in Bellagio, Italy, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her teaching methods and curricular designs have been replicated in many medical schools internationally. Her research has been supported by the NIH, the NEH, and several private foundations.
Formerly editor-in-chief of the journal Literature and Medicine, Dr. Charon is the author of Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); co-editor of Stories Matter: The Role of Narrative in Medical Ethics (Routledge, 2002); and co-editor of Psychoanalysis and Narrative Medicine (SUNY, in press). Her essays and reviews have appeared in Narrative, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Literature and Medicine, Lancet, and The New England Journal of Medicine. (see our interview with her in this edition of Synapse)