Medical Student Storytelling Retreat


10am-4pm March 2, 2019 Pie Ranch, Pescadero CA

Location: Pie ranch

Want to spend the day 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?

We sure hope so.

Stanford's Medicine and the Muse Program invites you to attend the second annual Spring Storytelling Retreat for Stanford Medical and PA Students. A great day 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 now full. If you’re interested in attending, please add yourself to the waitlist!




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; award-winning poet and writer MK Chavez, and many, many more. We 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.



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!



Seema Yasmin is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, medical doctor and poet . She was a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in 2017 for breaking news reporting. Seema trained in medicine at the University of Cambridge and worked as a hospital doctor in England before moving to the U.S. to serve as an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service. As a disease detective, she hunted viruses and other pathogens across American Indian reservations, in border towns and inside prisons. Then she pursued her love for writing and studied journalism at the University of Toronto, worked as a newspaper and broadcast reporter and medical analyst for CNN. Seema writes across genres and has won poetry contests, narrative non-fiction awards and short story contests. Her first book, The Impatient Dr. Lange, is a biography of her mentor, an HIV physician, who was killed on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. She has two books forthcoming in 2020. Her first poetry collection won the Diode Editions chapbook contest and was published in 2017. She teaches science journalism and health storytelling at Stanford where she is Director of Research and Education at the Stanford Health Communication Initiative.



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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Malia Wollan is a writer for The New York Times Magazine where she writes the weekly Tip column and recently wrote stories on the quest to make a natural blue food dye; what self-driving cars will mean for roadkill; and how scientists are building repositories for everything from seeds to glacier ice to bat milk. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Harper’s, National Public Radio, New York Magazine, Fast Company, the Associated Press, PBS’s Frontline/World and elsewhere. She is the director of the UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she has also taught classes. She was an editor at Meatpaper magazine.



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?

  • Warm layers to wear. It will probably not be too cold but it can get cold. 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.

  • 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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The retreat is now full. But please add yourself to the waitlist!

Name *