Welcome from Our NBM Program Director

Welcome to the Narrative-Based Medicine Lab (NBM Lab) at Continuing Professional Development, Temerty Faculty of Medicine — Canada’s home for teaching, research, and innovation in Narrative-Based Medicine.

The NBM Lab is a place to build community and to foster international collaboration and knowledge exchange across clinical and artistic disciplines.

As human beings, we are wired for storytelling — to make meaning and to connect with others.  Our stories can be told, written, performed, filmed, drawn, or sung (or all of the above). It is no coincidence that we turn to reading, writing, and reflecting at times of uncertainty or difficulty. These activities lift our spirits, restore our sense of hope, and help us make sense of the world arounds us. Especially now, we all need to find our way back into our work and find our purpose in the work we do as educators, researchers, and healers.

For over 20 years, the University of Toronto has been at the forefront of promoting narrative-based care, exploring the role of the arts in patient well-being, and  building a deep appreciation for stories  in students, educators, and practitioners.The NBM Lab, founded in 2020 within Continuing Professional Development, has brought together scholars and practitioners from multiple disciplines, health professions, and artistic fields to create state-of-the-art courses, classes, lectures, and workshops.

We have also been able to curate specific content for individual learners, university and hospital departments, and other healthcare centres. We continue to build new content, to evaluate its impact, and to advocate for the full integration of arts-based learning into clinical training.

Why Narrative-Based Medicine?

Narrative-Based Medicine (NBM) is a mode of healthcare practice and enquiry premised on the understanding that, knowingly and unknowingly, practitioners and patients together construct narratives over the course of their encounters. These stories affect the nature and meaning of health events in all our lives. Getting better at working with stories of all kinds has a powerful impact on both patient care and physician/clinician fulfilment.

The skills and tools offered by NBM can help health practitioners find sources of meaning that can reframe their lives and work, be it through connecting more deeply with patients in clinic, reflecting more fully on professional and personal experiences, or finding solace through the craft of writing.

Our Mission

Since the NBM Lab launched, our work has been to create a variety of educational opportunities, including our Foundational Certificate in Narrative-Based Medicine and our new Advanced Certificate that offers an opportunity for more individualized learning and deeper practice.

We are also home to a changing menu of stand-alone workshops on key practical and creative matters in the field, and are currently piloting mentorship and independent project opportunities[CM1]  that offer specialized one-to-one guidance from experienced practitioners.

In collaboration with the Health, Arts, and Humanities Program at the University of Toronto — which brings together students, educators, specialists in health humanities and artists-in-residence — we help deliver Team Narrative’s customized learning experiences in NBM topics.

Finally, we collaborate on research and teaching ventures internationally, including the current  partnership between the Narrative-Based Medicine Lab and the Department of Literary Studies at the University of Ghent in Belgium. More collaborations are on the way.

As we continue to grow, we aim to serve as a home for building community, and a repository  for resources, news, writing, and events from the growing world of Narrative-Based Medicine.

We welcome you to join us on this exciting journey!

Allan Peterkin MD, Program Director