Sunday Workshops

The following workshops are part of the NWNM Conference Sunday program. Participants indicate their workshop preferences upon registration. Some workshops have caps and are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Screen Shot 2017-09-16 at 4.53.46 PM

A. Graphic Medicine

Craigan Usher, MD

Using comics and graphics with medical themes, Usher will lead participants to discover the unique ways in which reading and creating comics renders the experience of illness itself and moves thoughts from the depths of the writer’s subjective experience into the mind of the reader. Examples will include works like Brian Fies’ Mom’s Cancer, Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow, and David B’s Epileptic. The second half of the workshop will give participants the opportunity to create their own simple comic centered on a shared clinical experience; a cartoonist will be on hand to help participants enhance their graphic stories.

B. Writing from the Body

Micaela Bombard, MS

What is the relationship between body and language? How does one experience the world using a framework that moves away from the objectification of the body toward an integrated, subjective mind/body experience’? Together participants will consider “the problem” of putting experience into language by closely reading poetry and discussing it. How can we describe the nature of our experience in a way that feels accurate, and what does “accuracy” mean in this context? How does one’s embodied experience shape their text? A descriptive writing exercise and group discussion will guide participants to honor embodied experience.

C. Radical Self-Care for Social Justice and Health Equity Work

Josephine Ensign, FNP, MPH, DrPh

Radical can be a loaded word. The OED breaks it down as “of or relating to a root or roots…vital.” As healthcare providers, patient advocates, and informed caregivers, what feeds and waters your soul? What draws you to the work you do? This is the radical question. If we don’t attend to the work of answering, it become an Achilles’ heel, tripping us up, making us lame. The root of our passion for our work can become the biggest source of professional burnout. In this workshop, Ensign will use writing prompts, select reading and group discussion to help participants incorporate radical self-care into their healthcare work.

D. Story Corps

Jessi Broberg and T. Timbreza

This session will focus on the healing power of storytelling through the mission of StoryCorps legacy and their partnership with local and national healthcare organizations. Participants will engage in an audio listening exercise, and will identify ways to tell a story within a limited timeframe, while maintaining the integrity of the narrative. Participants will not record a StoryCorps story in the session, but will learn techniques and be given resources on how to record one after the conference.

E. Art & Narrative: An Interactive Clay and Writing Experience
April Brenneman and Sharon Agnor
Reflect on your own illness narratives using the mediums of writing and clay. Learn about how Brenneman’s organic creation of x-ray art developed as she was a caretaker for her ill son, and how Angor’s illness story inspired her glass and steel art. Participants will create their own pinch pot representing an illness journey, its meaning enhanced through writing prompts. Be prepared to explore, awaken creativity, hear one’s own voice and the other.
F. Page to Stage: A Theatrical Approach to Narrative Medicine

Heath Hyun Houghton of Well Arts Institute

This workshop will help participants to gain perspective on key moments in their lives through the use of playwriting and performance together. First, participants will work as writers, creating short monologues or 2 or 3 person scenes exploring a specific moment of conflict or a moment of discovery or turning points – when something changes and is never the same again. After creating short written pieces, the writers will then work with the pieces that are created as actors. Both phases allow the participants to hone the story so that it clearly and efficiently tells the listener, the audience, precisely what the writers want them to understand about their experiences. In closing, we will discuss ways participants can put techniques learned into practice.

G. Taking Care: How Literature and Visual Art Can Shape Our Understanding of Wellness and Illness

Lois Leveen, PhD

How and why should we create space for the humanities in medicine and medical care? What purpose can contemplating works of literature and art have in shaping the experiences of patients, their families, and healthcare practitioners? Join Leveen – novelist, poet, and medical humanities scholar – for a discussion of several pieces of art and short literary works, in which participants will deepen their shared understanding of wellness, illness, and care taking. No prior experience or training in the humanities, literature, art, or medicine is required. This workshop will be held offsite at the Portland Art Museum.

H. Windows and Mirrors: Mindfulness and Empathy through Art

Hana Layson, PhD and Portland Art Museum docents and Jennifer Holzapfel-Hanson

Art museums can be places for solitude and contemplation. They are also spaces for encountering difference and dialogue. Educators, such as Susan Harris MacKay, employ the metaphor of windows and mirrors to suggest how some works of art provide insight into experiences that are different from our own, while others seem to reflect our own experiences back to us. Taking this metaphor as our starting point, Portland Art Museum staff and docents will facilitate an exploration of mindfulness and empathy through visual art. The workshop will include guided meditation as well as sketching, writing, and conversation in the galleries. This workshop will be held offsite at the Portland Art Museum.


Meet the Workshop Leaders

Craigan-Usher-11Craigan Usher is a Kienle Scholar for Medical Humanities and has led Graphic Medicine workshops throughout the Pacific Northwest. He is the director of child and adolescent psychiatry training, where his teachings emphasize the links between the neuroscience of empathy and attachment and child psychiatric practice. Dr. Usher has published numerous textbook chapters and authored book reviews for the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and the Clinical Social Work Journal.

websitephotoMicaela Bombard holds an MFA in creative writing and an MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, where she also worked as a Course Assistant and Instructor for several years. She has facilitated many Narrative Medicine workshops for people with diverse backgrounds and enjoys witnessing creativity. She currently lives in Portland and is writing a book while working as a freelance educator and facilitator in the field of Narrative Medicine.

ensign_photo-e1499398532189Josephine Ensign is an associate  professor at the University of Washington where she teaches community health, health policy, and narrative medicine. She has been a nurse for over thirty years, providing healthcare for homeless and marginalized populations. Her essays have appeared in The Sun, The Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Pulse, Silk Road, The Intima, The Examined Life Journal, Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine, and in the nonfiction anthology: I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse. Her debut medical memoir is Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling Through the Safety Net.

T Timbreza (1)
T. Timbreza has worked at OHSU for over 13 years in a variety of roles. He is currently a consultant and managers of data and analytics for the Patient Experience department. He believes in the power of storytelling and appreciates the opportunity he has to share the powerful experiences in healthcare through OHSU’s partnership with StoryCorps Legacy.


Jessi Broberg
Jessi Broberg is the Supervisor of Administrative Volunteers of the Patient Experience unit at OHSU. Before coming to OHSU, she interned 
for CASA Voices for Children. Jessi will be co-facilitating Sunday’s workshop with T. Timbreza.


AprilBrennemanApril Brenneman discovered the importance and power of narrative medicine through the traumatic experience of cancer in her youngest child. Writing became a natural outlet to try to process and understand her son’s cancer journey. In 2013 she painted on her son’s X-rays creating an art collection titled: Mother & Son. Her first piece, Lament 1: A Passionate Expression of Grief or Sorrow, was published in The Intima in 2014. She has facilitated many writing workshops for Write Around Portland and co-facilitates Contemplative Prayer and Journaling Retreats and bi-annual Companioning Conferences with Boldly Loved LLC.

00003568375101Sharon Agnor is a glass and steel artist who incorporates her personal medical narrative into art pieces. Agnor believes we are gifted with the ability to create as a way of processing the events and circumstances in our lives. She delights in our ability to express ourselves in tangible form, whether writing, painting, dance, etc. Her sculptures are displayed in cities throughout the Pacific northwest.


11751955_10205823896889610_4574520018076574637_nHeath Hyun Houghton is a Korean American actor and writer based in Portland, Oregon. The relationship between the science and the arts influences how he approaches creating pieces. Heath aims to support and develop organizations that create environmentally and socially responsible products and services and is an advocate for fair trade, for the freedom of information, for our rights as citizens and consumers to have transparency and equality in our practices. 

loisleveenLois Leveen is a Kienle Scholar in Medical Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine. A novelist, poet, and educator, her work in the medical humanities focuses on how content and approaches from literary studies, history, and the visual arts can foster greater reflection for individuals and deepen bonds of community among healthcare practitioners, patients, and families. She has been published in/on The New York Times, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Hana Layson is the Manager of School and Educator Programs at the Portland Art Museum. She has facilitated writing workshops for Write Around Portland and taught humanities courses at universities and nonprofits, including Portland State and the Illinois Humanities Council’s college program for low-income adults. Hana earned her PhD in English at the University of Chicago.



Jennifer HansonJennifer Holzapfel-Hanson is a yoga and meditation instructor in Portland, Oregon. She has been teaching yoga at the Multnomah Athletic Club for almost a decade—ever since she relocated to Portland seeking a healthier way of life than her former job as a magazine editor in Manhattan. She has been a docent at the Portland Art Museum since 2011. She served as a trainer for new docents last year and is currently the President Elect.


banner updated 092917