Medical Student Storytelling Retreat


10am on October 6th to 12pm October 7th, 2018.

Location: Soul Food Farm

Want to spend a weekend camping at a stunning organic farm where you'll hone your storytelling, speaking and communication skills with some of the top radio, broadcast and print journalists working today? eat delicious food? get to know your peers away from campus?

We certainly hope so.

Stanford's Medicine and the Muse Program invites you to the third annual Storytelling Retreat for Stanford Medical Students. Two days in a beautiful place with wonderful people, just for you.

Past faculty have included New York Times bestselling authors, award-winning podcast journalists, the nation's most talented speaker coaches, generous-hearted physician-writers and more. We will announce this years' guests soon!

NOTE: The workshop is officially full. But please sign up for the waitlist if you're interested in attending and we'll let you know if we can get you in!




About Your Teachers

Medicine and the Muse Storytelling Retreat for Medical Students is an opportunity for you to hang out with some of the top science and medicine communicators working today. Laurel Braitman, Writer-in-Residence at Stanford's Medicine and the Muse Program leads the workshop, alongside guest instructors invited for their know-how and experience as well as their generosity, kindness and interest in supporting student work. Past guests have included Rebecca Skloot, author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; Jordan Bass, executive editor of McSweeney's Publishing; Annie Brown, reporter and producer for The New York Times "Daily" podcast; Mimi Lok, Executive Director and Executive Editor of Voice of Witness (VOW), a nonprofit she cofounded with author Dave Eggers and Dr. Lola Vollen that advances human rights by amplifying the voices of people impacted by injustice; Haley Howle, senior producer for Pop Up Magazine, a live magazine the New York Times has called "a sensation;" Glenn Kramon, longtime editor at the New York Times where reporters he supervised won 10 Pulitzer Prizes, and were finalists for the Pulitzer 25 times; and many, many more. She will announce the instructors one at a time. So check back as we get closer to the workshop!



Workshop Leader & Instructor

Laurel Braitman PhD is a New York Times bestselling author, the Writer-in-Residence at Medicine & the Muse at the Stanford School of Medicine, and a Contributing Writer for Pop Up Magazine.  Her writing has appeared The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Wired and other publications and she regularly speaks to audiences around the world about issues relating science, medicine and health. She received her PhD in History, Anthropology and Science, Technology & Society from MIT and is a Senior TED Fellow. Her last book, Animal Madness (Simon & Schuster 2015) was a NYT bestseller, a science pick of the year everywhere from Amazon to Science Friday and has been translated into seven languages. Her work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Good Morning America, and Al Jazeera. She's taught popular interdisciplinary courses at Harvard, MIT Smith College and elsewhere and is passionate about collaborating with musicians, physicians, filmmakers, artists and scientists. Laurel's next book (Simon & Schuster, forthcoming) is about medicine, family, death and teenage awkwardness.



Latinx writer MK Chavez is the author of Mothermorphosis and Dear Animal, (Nomadic Press.) In 2017 Chavez received the 2017 Oakland Josephine Miles Award for poetry and her poem The New White House, Finding Myself Among the Ruins was selected by Eileen Myles for the Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize.

Check out some of her incredible work here.

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Matt Bucknor is an Assistant Professor in Radiology at UCSF in the Musculoskeletal Imaging section. His main research interest is high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU): a novel non-invasive ablation technique. He also serves as Chair of his department’s Diversity and Inclusion committee and was selected in 2015 as part of the inaugural class of John A. Watson Faculty Scholars for his commitment to diversity and service to underserved and vulnerable populations. While a medical student at Stanford, his exposure to writing through the Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities program was a transformative experience, empowering him to better grapple with complicated issues of identity. In fact, he may still hold the record for number of times enrolled in “Creative Writing for Medical Students.” In his final year, Matt received Med Scholars funding to work on a novel exploring issues of race and identity with the invaluable mentorship of Dr. Audrey Shafer, which he continues to revise. He also leads one of the writing groups of the Pegasus Physicians Writers at Stanford. 


Emmett Fitzgerald is a producer with the podcast 99% Invisible in Oakland. Before that he was a producer and reporter for PRI's Living on Earth in Boston. He likes stories about animals and sports. 

You can check out his excellent stories here.


Pablo Romano is a second-year medical student at Stanford University. He grew up living in both the suburbs of Los Angeles and Guadalajara, Mexico and studied Cognitive Science at Occidental College. Currently, he thinks he might become a neurologist or a psychiatrist and is involved in research exploring the neurological underpinnings of psychiatric diseases. When he’s not studying or thinking about the brain, Pablo enjoys writing as a way of understanding and telling his own story. He also loves encouraging others to share their own and he created a recurring storytelling event at the medical school called TALK Rx to do just that. Pablo is a conversationalist who loves meeting new people and creating community around sharing meaningful moments. If you see him around, please say hello. 



Katie Mingle is the senior producer at 99% Invisible . She formerly produced the radio show Re:sound for the Third Coast Festival in Chicago and worked as producer for WBEZ. Her website houses most of the radio work Katie has done outside of 99% Invisible.  

Find her 99pi stories here.



Jenya Kaufman is a Psychiatrist who divides her professional time between San Francisco's Department of Public Health and a small private psychotherapy practice in the Castro District of SF. She has long been interested in the stories of people and how we narrate our lives. She studied evolutionary biology as an undergraduate at Columbia University and went on to medical school at Stanford after teaching in rural Mississippi for two years and completing a post-bacc. She found the practice of writing during medical school to be a haven for processing her personal development and a way to pay attention to and honor the bravery and vulnerability shown by people throughout their interactions. These days when she is not working or figuring out motherhood she particularly enjoys reading memoirs.



What if I don’t want to share my work with anyone else?

No worries. You don’t have to. You will have opportunities to share if you feel like it, but if you want to keep your work to yourself that’s just fine too.

What if I’ve never camped before?

No worries about this either. You’ll have everything you need to be comfortable (tent, sleeping bag, mattress pad). You will also have access to a real (and quite beautiful bathroom). We will be eating fantastic meals and you will have chairs to sit on while you work if you choose.

I don’t think of myself as a writer or storyteller at all. Does that matter?

This doesn’t matter. Come as you are. If you’ve been working on a creative project and have ideas of what you’d like to work on, excellent. But if not, it’s no problem at all. No experience necessary. Sometimes the people with the most to give have never ever considered themselves “creative.”

I’m a vegetarian/pescatarian/gluten-free/etc, will I go hungry?

You will not. Laurel does not eat mammals or bell peppers or chickens (unless the chickens are happy and have had names). So those things won’t be on the menu probably. But also good food is very important for good ideas. So there will be lots of both. When you fill out the RSVP form you have an opportunity to share food preferences and allergies. Tell us about them and we will take care of you.

I cannot perform basic tasks without coffee. Will there be plenty?


Enough already. What do I bring?

  • Warm layers to wear. It will probably not be too cold but it can get cold at night. Bring lots of warm things just in case.

  • A headlamp or flashlight. There are lanterns scattered about and lovely hanging white lights but you should also have something to help you see to and from your tent.

  • Something to write with: notebook, pens, pencils, laptop or ipad (note: if you bring technology, bring it charged and bring a backup because you may not be able to charge it at the farm).

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat for sun. It can be intense during the day.

  • Insulated mug for coffee/tea

  • Water bottle

  • Sturdy shoes to walk around the farm in.

  • Toothbrush/toiletries/small towel (or whatever you need to wash your face/teeth/etc).

  • If you have it: campchair (so you can take it off into the meadows and fields to write and think)

  • If you have it: picnic blanket or towel (to sit on in the meadows and fields)

  • Any musical instruments you might have on hand and would like to play!


In case you're wondering about anything else...

Feel free to email Laurel Braitman with any questions, big or little, that you have about the workshop.

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We are officially full! But please sign up for a waitlist and we'll let you know if you get in!

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