Photo credit:  Jen Olenik

Photo credit: Jen Olenik


Tell your story

The Nocturnists is a night of physicians and other health care workers telling personal stories about life in medicine. For more information, read about us here. Submissions for our April 20th event on the theme of "death and dying," at the Verdi Club in San Francisco (produced in partnership Re:imagine) are now CLOSED. For future reference, here are some tips on what we're looking for in a story:

1. Put yourself in the story. It's important that you're telling your own story, and not somebody else's.

2. Be descriptive. Please share details and texture, as this helps draw the audience in!

3. Tell us how you changed. The best stories have an arc of change, and strong narrative thrust (with a beginning, middle, and end); in other words, how did this experience change or impact you?

4. Show us your humanity. Don't be afraid to get intimate, tell us about your doubts and flaws, and don't pretend to be perfect or a superhero.

5. If your story is serious, please try to include a few moments of humor/levity.

6. Target length is 5-10 minutes. Remember, our storytellers present without notes.

7. You can hear examples of past successful stories on our podcast.

Keep in mind: if your story is selected, we will pair you with a coach who will help you craft/polish your story so that it is stage-ready.

Name *
(a sentence or two is fine)
(a brief outline is good) *instead of writing a brief outline, you may also e-mail a brief audio clip to

A note: if you decide to include patients and their friends/family as characters, a good rule of thumb for preserving confidentiality is that your characters should not be able to recognize themselves in your story. Some ways to achieve this: don't include names or dates, consider changing key characteristics (e.g. if a hat or backpack was a key feature of your patient, make it a scarf or a necklace), and don't make diseases too recognizable (e.g. lymphangioleiomyomatosis should be changed to "lung disease"). Alternatively, you can obtain a patient's written permission to use HIPAA-protected information in your story. For a quick review of this issue, check out this article and this article.