Accessible Narrative Medicine
An inclusive digital library for use in facilitator trainings and community workshops.
Accessible Narrative Medicine centers the idea that narrative medicine workshops should be led by trusted members of a community. In order to create an inclusive safe space, the content and leadership of a workshop should reflect the lived experience of those attending. Our focus is to explore challenging health questions, and to lift the health narratives of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and persons living with disability, in order to create more just healthcare settings for all.
The team behind the Accessible Narrative Medicine digital library acknowledge racism as a public health crisis. We are committed to examining and dismantling racism and its cycles of harm by first centering the work of artists and creatives who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities. We center these voices in our curriculum, facilitator trainings, and community workshops.
With this intention, we foster empathetic listening to the narratives of historically underheard communities. We make room for a wide range of perspectives and lived experience with illness, healing, and the healthcare system. And we facilitate conversations that challenge bias and stereotypes in these systems and in ourselves. Ultimately, this work is meant to disrupt an ableist, heteronormative, and white supremacist culture that has prevailed in healthcare, then move people to action—toward dialogue, transformation, and repair.
The team recognizes that dismantling racism is a lifelong process. We created the Accessible Narrative Medicine digital library as one set of tools to flatten hierarchies in our healthcare system. This library is meant to be explored, adapted, critiqued, and expanded, not closed as some definite authority.We hope everyone finds a way to use it to transform oppressive systems and make them more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just.
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Narrative Medicine Origin Story
Disease happens to a body; illness happens to a person. Too often, roles replace the humans that come to clinical encounters. Moreover, health narratives from marginalized communities are often less heard and valued. The Facilitator Training and Accessible Narrative Medicine are designed to amplify traditionally undervalued voices into this practice, and to provide resources for trained facilitators to flourish. In 2021 the Northwest Narrative Medicine Collaborative set a goal for >25% of trainees to come from communities of color, LGBTQ+, and people living with disability. We exceeded our goal by training ~50%. Accessible Narrative Medicine will build on an established track record of our commitment in URM communities.
Accessible Narrative Medicine will be a vital part of creating a lasting and sustainable community long after trainings have ended. It is important that as we grow the practice of narrative medicine, leaders from diverse groups further develop skills to create more just healthcare communities.
We gratefully acknowledge the Oregon Humanities Council for funding to create this library.