Art and the art of healing


Pioneer in field of narrative medicine to deliver 31st Osler Lecture

McGill University is pleased to welcome Dr. Rita Charon, director and founder of the Narrative Medicine Program, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, as the 31st annual Osler Lecturer on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Dr. Charon will present the lecture "On the Precipice of Illness: The Necessary Perils of Narrative Engagement."

Dr. Charon teaches students the art of listening in an effort to improve the relationship between physicians and patients using literature and writing. Her goal is to make doctors more empathetic by getting them to articulate and deal with their feelings and develop sophisticated listening skills, for revelations hidden in imagery and subtext. Dr. Charon's charges use this "parallel chart" to decipher more than clinical results, so they can better empathize with their patients. Her Osler Lecture, which comes at a time when Canada's own health care system is undergoing transformation, promises to be provocative and original as it underscores the connection between the arts and the art of healing.

What: Osler Public Lecture

When: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, at 6 p.m.

Where: Palmer Howard Amphitheatre, room 522
McIntyre Medical Sciences Building - 5th floor
3655 Promenade Sir-William-Osler (north of Drummond St.)

Free admission

Rita Charon is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and Director of the Narrative Medicine Program. She is a general internist in practice in the Associates of Internal Medicine at Presbyterian Hospital in New York. She 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 her PhD in the Department of English at 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, as well as narrative medicine, and teaches seminars on the works of Henry James in Columbia's Department of English. Her teaching methods and curricular designs have been replicated in many medical schools internationally. Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and several private foundations.

On the Web:

Osler Lecture

Rita Charon on National Public Radio

Contact Information

Cynthia Lee
McGill University
cynthia.lee [at]
Office Phone: