Health and Illness Narratives: Harnessing Medical Memoir to Impact a Broken System

Room 331, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 3
Thursday, March 9, 2023
9:00 am to 10:15 am


Illness narratives and medical memoirs have the potential to heal our broken healthcare system in a meaningful way. As these genres expand, with literary works from both patient and healthcare worker perspectives, hear how five writers hope to improve healthcare by reducing stigma and elevating marginalized voices. We will discuss how literature, specifically the individual stories of patients and caregivers, could help make the healthcare system more just, effective, and compassionate.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: AWP_2023_Outline_12023.pdf



Mary Pan is a writer and physician with a background in global health and narrative medicine. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, McSweeney’s, Intima, and elsewhere. An alum of Tin House and Kenyon Review workshops, she was runner-up for AWP’s 2020 Kurt Brown Prize for Creative Nonfiction.

Emily Maloney’s collection of essays, Cost of Living, about the American healthcare system, is forthcoming from Flatiron Books. Her work has appeared in Best American Essays, Glamour, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She is also a MacDowell Fellow.

Dr. Rana Awdish is a critical care physician and author of critically acclaimed memoir, In Shock. Her essays and editorials have been published in HBR, NEJM, Washington Post, and Intima. Her essay "The Shape of the Shore" was awarded a Sydney by the New York Times, and it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Emily Silverman, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine at UCSF and creator and host of The Nocturnists, an independent medical storytelling organization. Her writing has been supported by MacDowell and published in the New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, JAMA, CHEST, McSweeney’s, and more.

Suzanne Koven is a primary care physician and the inaugural writer in residence at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her book, Letter to a Young Female Physician, explores imposter syndrome, sexism in traditionally male-dominated fields, ambition, and work-life balance. Follow her @SuzanneKovenMD.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center