Annual Fall Storytelling Retreat


The worshop filled up in an hour but if you missed your chance, don’t despair. We have a waitlist. Get on it HERE.

WHEN: 10am Saturday October 12, 2019—11am Sunday October 13, 2019 Soul Food Farm, Vacaville, CA

Want to spend the WEEKEND at a beautiful farm where you'll hone your storytelling skills with some of the top radio, broadcast and print journalists working today? eat delicious food? get to know your peers away from campus? Have time to work on your own creative work? SLEEP UNDER THE STARS IN AN OLIVE ORCHARD?

We hope so.

Stanford's Medicine and the Muse Program invites you to attend the annual Fall Storytelling Retreat for Stanford Medical and PA Students at Soul Food Farm. We will write, we will listen, we will share. It’s a great weekend in a beautiful place with wonderful people, just for you. Also chickens, a cow, sheep, flowers, time to be outside and reflect on why you’re in medical school in the first place.

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.



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); Haley Howle, senior producer for Pop Up Magazine, a live magazine the New York Times has called "a sensation;" New York Times Magazine columnist and writer Malia Wollan; and poet-writer MK Chavez, among many, many more.



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.



Candice Kim is a third-year medical student at Stanford University who is also pursuing a concurrent PhD in education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. She has performed her work live for the Bowery Poetry Club (New York City) and The Nocturnists (San Francisco) and published her writing in journals like the Intima and Academic Medicine (forthcoming June 2019). She is researching the impact of storytelling on improving medical student well-being and has presented her work at multiple national conferences, including an invited presentation at the 2019 ABIM Foundation Forum this August. She has led creative writing workshops in the medical humanities in Napa, Portland, and upcoming in Berkeley. Most recently, she is working with an interdisciplinary team of writers, artists, and journalists to collaboratively create a graphic novel on solitary confinement in the California prison system (forthcoming April 2019). She comes from a STEM undergraduate background and didn’t start pursuing the creative arts/humanities until medical school, so if you have any questions about switching fields, developing new interests, or anything else please come chat!

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Lily Whitsitt is Deputy Director of the TED Fellows program, where she curates, develops and supports a community of global visionaries – from artists to inventors to astrophysicists, and helps them craft talks and messages that reach millions around the world. She is also a theater director, writer, and founder of Door 10, a performance and art lab based in New York City whose recent production, “This is the Color Described by the Time,” was described by the New York Times as “an unsettling descent into the writer’s inner world.” She received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and is a two-time recipient of the Princess Grace Award. She is incredibly talented at helping interdisciplinary leaders craft talks, lectures and performances and is so looking forward to meeting you!



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. 

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Shoham Arad is a designer and the Director of the TED Fellows Program, one of the most dynamic and prestigious fellowships in the world. She leads a network spanning 96 countries. The Program's 475 fellows represent every discipline from medicine and electrical engineering to contemporary art and poetry. She is also a guest professor of design at the Rhode Island School of Design and Parsons School of Design. Through her work, she helps thought leaders formulate and communicate their groundbreaking ideas through multiple platforms that impact all sectors of society, from art to healthcare. She has helped over 300 speakers reach audiences of millions around the world. She is a gifted speaking coach and is excited to meet all of you and help you articulate your own ideas!



Constance Hockaday is a communications and creative consultant for humans working in groups. She has been facilitating meaningful conversations and organizational trainings on conflict and communication with scaling startups, career artists, musicians, grassroots nonprofits, small businesses, and indigenous communities living in resistance for almost 20 years. She has masters degrees in both Conflict Resolution Strategies and Socially Engaged Art and believes the most important part of transforming conflict into creative enterprise is the ability to genuinely express our desires. She is also a creative director and visual artist who creates experimental public art that confront issues surrounding public space, political voice, and belonging. In 2011, she created the Boatel, a floating art hotel in NYC’s Far Rockaways made of refurbished salvaged boats-- an effort to reconnect New Yorkers to their waterfront. The New York Times described her 2014 piece All These Darlings and Now Us--as a “powerful commentary on the forces of technification and gentrification roiling San Francisco.” Her work has been supported by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, MAP Fund, Kennith Rainin Foundation, Puffin Foundation, SF MOMA, Mills College Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum, The Untitled Art Fair, and many other less risk adverse arts organizations. She is currently an artist in residence at UCLA and a Senior TED Fellow. Check out her work!


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.

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?

  • A sleeping bag, sleeping pad and tent. But ONLY if you have it. If you don’t, we will rent this equipment for you.

  • Warm layers to wear. It will probably not be too cold during the day but it can get cold at night. Also bring a rainjacket.

  • 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.

  • Towel and soap if you’d like to use the outdoor shower.

  • 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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Well that was fast. The workshop is now FULL. But you can sign up for the waitlist!

Name *
If so, are you willing to bring other students? How many seats do you have available?
Do you need a sleeping bag? *
Do you need a sleeping pad? *
Do you have your own tent? *
Tell us your tent preferences. I prefer to share with: *