Dr. Emily Silverman is an internal medicine physician at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF, and creator/host of The Nocturnists, a medical storytelling live show and podcast where healthcare workers share stories of joy, sorrow, and self-discovery. Since 2016, The Nocturnists has produced over a dozen live performances in the Bay Area and New York City, and three seasons of its podcast, featuring live story performances followed by a conversation between Dr. Silverman and the storyteller.
When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, The Nocturnists immediately began collecting audio diaries from healthcare workers nationwide. Between the months of March and May, Dr. Silverman and her team collected over 700 audio clips and created a 10-part audio documentary storytelling series called “Stories from a Pandemic,” which was featured in Pop Up Magazine’s Spring 2020 issue.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder in the summer of 2020, The Nocturnists sought to give voice to the experience of Black healthcare workers. Dr. Silverman partnered with Dr. Ashley McMullen and Dr. Kimberly Manning to produce another audio diary series called “Black Voices in Healthcare,” which highlights stories of Black pain, joy, and excellence in healthcare.
Through collecting and curating the stories of healthcare workers, Dr. Silverman has gained a unique and intimate perspective on the psyche of the American healthcare workforce during this pivotal time in medical history. Her healthcare storytelling projects are informed by big questions like: What is a doctor? What is healing? What are the forces that drive clinician burnout and moral distress? As a healthcare system, where do we go from here?
The Nocturnists has been featured by NPR’s Snap Judgment, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, and the Bay Area Science Festival. Dr. Silverman has published writing in The New York Times, JAMA, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and McSweeneys, and is on the Advisory Board of a new doctor's organization, Medicine Forward, which advocates for re-centering the doctor-patient relationship in healthcare. In 2020, Dr. Silverman was on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 100 List, which celebrates creative changemakers whose work is in service of building sustainable, equitable, and regenerative communities.
Dr. Silverman is a dynamic speaker, and has inspired audiences at UCSF, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, and The Esalen Institute. Her engagements illustrate the power of storytelling to impact healthcare delivery, shape medical culture, ignite creativity, and catalyze individual and institutional change.
Dr. Silverman lives in San Francisco with her husband, some musical instruments, and many plants.
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