Medical Humanities StoryLab is a new initiative of Medicine and the Muse, the Stanford Storytelling Project, and the Stanford Health Library. Our goal is to help more people tell important stories related to health care, caregiving, bodies, trauma, ecology and healing.

Let us help you build vivid, compelling stories out of research, personal experience, imagination, and insights. StoryLab is open to the broader health community, including students, faculty, staff and patients, and all levels of experience. StoryLab appointments are available for coaching storycraft, podcast production, writing the personal essay, poetry and more.

Make an appointment today for a story coaching session with members of the Stanford Medicine community!

Brian Smith

Brian loves writing, reading, people, and dogs. He also enjoys running, making cut-paper art, and nature photography. During his undergraduate degree he majored in Biology and minored in English, and he is now a first-year medical student at Stanford. His writing can be found in JAMA Oncology, The Intima, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Unlost, and elsewhere.

Favorite Topics:
-Narrative Medicine
-Creative nonfiction
-Flash Fiction

Cynthia Nguyen

Cynthia is a cross-cultural psychiatrist in private practice, adjunct clinical associate professor at Stanford medical school, and advisor to undergrads in Human Biology. She has taken care of refugees/immigrants since the fall of Saigon in 1975, long before she ever thought of becoming a doctor. Now, she sees people with intergenerational/secondary trauma and is interested in post-traumatic growth and resilience. Cynthia completed 9 years of a PhD program in languages and civilizations at Harvard before switching to medical school at Stanford. She is very interested in the trauma story and narrative arc of patients and of those of us who work in healthcare.

Favorite Topics:
-Making meaning from your narrative arc
-Intergenerational issues in healthcare
-Cross-cultural issues in healthcare
-Trauma of working in healthcare
-Post-traumatic growth and resilience in healthcare workers, patients, humans
-Empathy and storytelling
-Art, medicine, and healing

Christy Hartman

Christy is the program coordinator for the Medicine and the Muse program. In addition, she was a mentor and producer for the Stanford Storytelling Project, co-teaching narrative storytelling and podcast production. She holds an MA in ecopsychology and environmental humanities and studied creative nonfiction at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She has been awarded fellowships from the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Her essays have been published in Souvenir Lit Journal, About Place Journal, the Stanford Daily, and in the book, Aftermath: Explorations of Loss & Grief.

Favorite Topics:
-Intimate journalism
-Personal essay
-Personal statements

Frish Brandt

Frish is a Letter Midwife, helping people write essential letters. Her practice began in palliative care and soon branched out to include anyone who is mortal. She is associated with Stanford Hospital, Commonweal, By the Bay Health while often inquiries come randomly from people who have heard her on the radio or read an article.

Frish is a Fellow in the Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI) which has provided her the opportunity to explore the many wonders of the MEDICINE AND THE MUSE PROGRAM.

Letter midwifery is her first calling which came second. In her other life she is the President of Fraenkel Gallery, a well-regarded gallery working primarily with photographers.

"While I thought the letters I assisted with were for the recipient, I learned quickly they are first for the letter writer. Everyone has a letter in them."

Favorite Topics:
-Thank you
-I love you
-I'm sorry
-I need to tell you something
-Writing to your future self

Make an appointment