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Emily Silverman

Emily Silverman is an internist at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, assistant professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco, and creator and host of The Nocturnists, a medical storytelling live show and podcast. Her writing has been supported by a MacDowell Fellowship and published in the New York Times, JAMA, McSweeney’s, and the Examined Life Journal.

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December 3, 2020 | Essays

I can’t tell you why I rented the theater downtown, other than that it was inevitable, like the notes of a song. Facing the rows of empty velvet seats, I felt the thrust of potential. At night, doctors stood on stage telling stories—not of helicopter rides and loss of blood, but of waffling, of wanting, of grappling with themselves. The audience arrived like spirits, craving not entertainment but something more fundamental and urgent. I sat backstage, eyes closed, living and dying in every pause, every ripple of laughter. This—a live storytelling event by those in health care, for those in health care—was the first thing I had ever originated, one that came from the roiling place inside of me and not a script.