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Narrative Medicine Program

Our mission is to focus on the human side of medicine, to increase the satisfaction and fulfillment of students and physicians, and to chronicle the amazing world of Temple University Hospital. We plan to do this through a celebration of and emphasis on stories and storytelling.  

The facts are well reported: Doctors too often feel isolated, frustrated, and burned out. The humanity in medicine is getting lost. The focus on the patient and patient story is being overlooked and devalued in the rush and crush. Students come into medical school full of empathy but in the course of their education and training this often erodes.

Our goal is to protect and support this feeling of empathy, to nourish the humanism that brings physicians into the profession. And to teach the skills of narrative that may help at the bedside and beyond.

The field of narrative medicine is just emerging and still being defined. Few medical schools even have a formal narrative medicine component. This is the only program in the country headed by an award winning journalist and author.

We hope to build a program that others can model. We hope to build a program that will give physicians the skills and opportunities to reflect more on their experiences, to find and celebrate meaning in their work, and to appreciate the value of the patient’s story in patient care.  

Medical students and residents at Temple will have an opportunity to work with the director of narrative medicine on individual and group projects for their own personal reflection and discovery and for publication. Electives and monthly narrative medicine workshops will be offered. There will be an increased focus on reflection and narrative during third year clerkships. A narrative medicine page on the LKSOM website will be home to much of the student writing. It is the goal of LKSOM in time to offer a certificate and even a masters in narrative medicine.  

If this program is successful, more young physicians will find ways to deal with the stress of their demanding profession. They will also be sharing their stories with the public, providing a window into what is happening in medicine and healthcare today and advocating for their patients and profession.

Stories are an indispensable part of medicine. Along with the physician’s touch, they are at the core of the patient-physician relationship. Stories have the power to heal, inspire, build relationships and change the world.


Anatomy Donor Celebration

Reflections by the Class of 2022, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University


By Michael Vitez | November 14, 2018

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LKSOM Student Mai Stewart Builds Instagram Following With Her Whimsical Drawings About Medical School

Each of these drawings is a story, a reflection on her experiences in medical school, and a way for her to process and share her feelings.


By Michael Vitez | November 6, 2018

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Don’t be a savior, just be a doctor, and listen!

Advice to med students from patients in North Philly


By Michael Vitez | August 22, 2018

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TEAC goes to Puerto Rico!

Students reflect on their trip to help a ravaged nation


By Temple Emergency Action Corps (TEAC) | July 18, 2018

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“I Do” in the ICU

Colleen Lyons and Mick Popowcer had been engaged so long, at least eight years, that he’d bought her two engagement rings.


By Michael Vitez | June 1, 2018

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Read our latest edition of the literary magazine, The Pulse.

To download a PDF, click here.

By Michael Vitez | May 22, 2018

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The many forms of healing — reading to patients at dawn.

“Love is an action word,” said Robin Peoples, a patient care assistant who works the overnight shift on 4 East.

By Michael Vitez | May 1, 2018

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Amtrak survivor returns to express thanks, share experience as a patient

“I don’t know how I got out of that train.”

By Michael Vitez | May 1, 2018

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One Afternoon in Clinic (As Featured in ‘Pulse’)

One doctor, four hours, fourteen patients.

By Miranda Haslam, M1 | March 12, 2018

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In the winter, North Philadelphia is slick with ice.

By Joe Corcoran, M1 | March 12, 2018

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Surgery in North Philadelphia

There is both intense beauty and a powerfully sad reality of medical practice in a safety net hospital.

By Howard Ross, MD | March 12, 2018

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Simply call him abuelo: Featured Student Essay

The first day of February started like most winter Philadelphia mornings—cold, dark, and hurried.

By Timothy McKinley | February 14, 2018

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The Waiting Room

At 19 years old, he was a skateboarder.

By Daniel Pustay | February 14, 2018

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A Family Affair

There are four members of the Jennings family at Temple’s hospital and medical school.

By Michael Vitez | February 13, 2018

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A doctor, a patient and the bond they form

Jay Schnitzer, Dr. Jay, a podiatrist, had just had a kidney transplant, but it wasn’t going so well.

By Michael Vitez | February 13, 2018

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I Hear Temple Singing

They had seven minutes. They could write anything they wanted.

By Michael Vitez | Dec 12, 2017

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The Lung Brothers

Two strangers share a set of transplanted lungs, become bonded like brothers.

By Michael Vitez | November 15, 2017

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Today, I hugged a stranger

And in the hallway, there he was — sobbing in a corner, alone.

By Dr. Edwin Acevedo, Jr | November, 1 2017

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Birthday Gift

The trauma bay is overflowing with people, masked, gowned and gloved, before the ambulance arrives.

By Carlie Rose Wilson | November 1, 2017

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Story Slam Recap: Stories that Heal, Inspire and Build Community

Stories do so many things — heal, inspire, and build community — all of which were on display in the story slam.

By Michael Vitez | October 19, 2017

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One overdose story in a hospital with far too many

Just after 9 p.m. on a rainy Friday, the announcement came over the public address.

By Michael Vitez | October 19, 2017

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He Got His New Heart. How About That Haircut?

He made a pact four years ago with a little boy, Dylan, 12, when they were both waiting for heart transplants at the Gift of Life House in Philadelphia.

By Michael Vitez | October 10, 2017

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Help Beyond the Yoga Class

A month after her yoga class, a few days before the next one, Shekea Johnson had a scare and went to the emergency room.

By Michael Vitez | October 3, 2017

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Give Conversation a Chance!

Danielle Ofri, doctor, writer, editor, told physicians at grand rounds on Wednesday at Temple University Hospital that listening is the best medicine.

By Michael Vitez | September 29, 2017

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For Expecting Mothers, Time For Warrior 1

Yoga? Shekea Johnson didn’t know what to expect.

By Michael Vitez | August 16, 2017

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A Walk in the Park

The other day, just after lunch, a man in a wheelchair was pushed out the main entrance to Temple University Hospital and rolled into the sunshine.

By Michael Vitez | July 24, 2017

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Safe and Sound: Glimpses of two baby boxes being used in the home

Three mothers share how their families benefited from baby boxes.

By Alexandra Parfitt and Michael Vitez | May 22, 2017

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This is How Inspiration Strikes: the Story Behind and Impact of Temple’s Baby Boxes

Temple was the first hospital in America to give away baby boxes, and Temple’s program made worldwide news

By Michael Vitez | May 8, 2017

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Patient Story: Johanna Hantel, Boston Marathon bombing survivor, and the doctor who helped her keep running*

Johanna wrote about her relationship with Dr. Palamarchuk, who has been instrumental to her health before and since the bombing.

April 17, 2017

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* This story is comes courtesy of our peers at the Temple University School of Podiatry.

Fighting Physician Burnout: Featured Student Essay

A great essay on physician burnout by fourth-year student Erin Barnes

April 5, 2017

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The education of a doctor and the heroin addict she tried to help

As the hospitalist helped him, he also helped her.

By Michael Vitez | March 27, 2017

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Portrait of compassion: Why does a patient donate his kidney to a stranger?

Tim Horner decided he would donate his kidney to a stranger, to start a phenomenon known as a kidney chain.

By Michael Vitez | March 14, 2017

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First Story Slam: A dozen funny, powerful and heartbreaking narratives

The first Temple Story Slam was a glorious success.

By Michael Vitez | February 28, 2017

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What does compassion look like?

Stories from inside the examination room.

By Michael Vitez | February 20, 2017

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After transplant, a second act for Broadway performer

Frank Farrow's kidney went bad and he went into renal failure. And then he got a phone call.

By Michael Vitez | February 17, 2017

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A medical student to her first cadaver: ‘The beauty and privilege of the moment’

An LKSOM medical student sees beyond dissecting her first cadaver to appreciate the experience.

By Madeline Lederer | February 9, 2017

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Habit of the Heart

At Temple University Hospital, Dr. Jocelyn Edathil is dedicated to saving the lives and souls of her patients.

By Michael Vitez | December 21, 2016

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It Takes Heart: Temple gives “Miracle Joe” a new heart and he spreads the love at Philly Heart Walk

Two years after Joseph Beinlich suffered a heart attack and became the recipient of Temple’s first total artificial heart, and a new human heart a year later, he took on the American Heart Association walk.

By Michael Vitez | November 11, 2016

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A doctor-in-training learns bedside manners, the hard way

Michael Rockman went from being a med student to a patient. Now a med student once again, he shares some lessons he learned from his experience.

By Michael E. Rockman | October 17, 2016

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The Art — and Sometimes Luck — of Medicine

Back in April, Lisa got the flu. After a few days, she told her daughter to call an ambulance. She couldn’t breathe. At a local hospital, doctors intubated her, induced a coma, and helicoptered her to Temple University Hospital. Read about her journey from the ICU to today - back home with her family and breathing without oxygen.

By Michael Vitez | October 13, 2016

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How to Tell a Mother Her Child is Dead

Naomi Rosenberg is an emergency room doctor at Temple University Hospital. This essay appeared in the Review and Opinion Section of the New York Times on Sept. 4, 2016.

By Naomi Rosenberg | October 13, 2016

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The Making of an American Doctor

“I find myself thinking about my family a lot these days. And for good reason. My journey to becoming a physician really started with their own.” Fourth year LKSOM student Matthew Trifan shares his story.

By Matthew Trifan | October 11, 2016

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Bonding over Body Parts

Sam Hodge, a legal studies professor at Temple for 40 years, has taught Anatomy for Litigators and Forensic Medicine and Law. He had a sabbatical this fall so he offered to help teach anatomy to first year medical students. Learn more about this very special class.

By Michael Vitez | October 10, 2016

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From White Coats to Cadavers: Temple’s Newest Medical Students Earn Their Rites of Passage

From the thrills of White Coat Ceremony to the marvels of anatomy lab – all within a few short days. Follow along with Temple's first-year medical students during an unforgettable set of experiences.

By Michael Vitez | August 12, 2016

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The Artist in the Lobby

If you’ve ever spent time at Temple University Hospital, you may have seen Jonathan Thomas sketching away in the lobby. Thomas, an artist, has been coming to Temple for over 10 years.

By Michael Vitez | August 1, 2016

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At Summer Camp, the Doctor Is In

How does Temple Health CEO Larry Kaiser, MD, FACS, spend his summer vacation? Serving as camp doctor for Tripp Lake Camp in Maine.

By Michael Vitez | July 20, 2016

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What a moment! From fear to euphoria in a heartbeat

A woman early in her pregnancy recently came into Temple University Hospital fearing the worst for her unborn baby. Dr. Stephanie Barbetta was not only able to put her concerns to rest, but give her a moment she’ll never forget.

By Michael Vitez | July 15, 2016

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After Orlando Shootings, Temple’s ER Staff Pays It Forward

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, many members of the Temple University Hospital Emergency Department (ED) decided to surprise their ED colleagues at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

By Michael Vitez | July 14, 2016

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The Baby Is Ready to Go Home, But the Car Seat Is Broken. What Does Temple’s NICU Do?

Maria Sierra-Ortiz, 54, a social worker at Temple Hospital for over 20 years, and the Temple NICU staff pitches in to help a young mother.

By Michael Vitez | July 8, 2016

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From Scrubs to Stage, Temple Resident Finds Meaning in Telling Stories

Temple resident Dr. Mohammed Nayeemuddin, known to patients and friends alike by his nickname, Zeeshan, deals with the emotion, isolation and intensity of intensive care by telling stories. He competes in New York and Philadelphia in what are known as story slams.

By Michael Vitez | June 2, 2016

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Few thought he'd survive the night. But after 77 days, Temple's most critical Amtrak patient finally went home

A chronicle of the recovery of Aaron Levine, Temple University Hospital's most critical Amtrak 188 train derailment patient who spent 77 days in the ICU.

By Michael Vitez | May 12, 2016

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Reflections from the physicians, staff and students who worked at Temple the night of the Amtrak derailment

One year ago, on May 12, at about 9:20 p.m,. Amtrak Train 188 derailed going through the Frankford Curve, about three miles from Temple University Hospital. There were 238 passengers on board; 54 were rushed to Temple, twice the number sent to any other hospital.

By Michael Vitez | May 12, 2016

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