Schulich school of Medicine and Dentistry logo MD/PhD Program Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Tavis Apramian

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Previous Degrees:
BA (Hons) Biology & English, Carleton University
MA English, Carleton University
MSc Narrative Medicine, Columbia University

Program: Health & Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program (Health Professional Education Field)
Lab: Centre for Education Research and Innovation
Supervisor: Lorelei Lingard
Co-supervisor: Sayra Cristancho
Program Stream: 3-4
Anticipated Graduation date: 2014 - 2020

  • My Journey

  • Future Aspirations

  • Publications

My previous studies spanned the sciences and the humanities. At first, I followed my interest in the natural sciences toward the study of immunology and oncology while at the same time I followed my interest in people’s stories toward the study of identity and cultural theory.

At the first fork in my path I choose to explore storytelling more deeply. I was a member of the inaugural class of the Master’s of Science in Narrative Medicine at Columbia. There, I had a chance to study the relationship between patient stories and health policy change. That degree lead me to Western, where I worked in the Narrative Medicine Initiative under the supervision of Dr. Shannon Arntfield in the Centre for Education Research & Innovation at the Schulich School. Many of the concerns in Narrative Medicine are concerns about the process and culture of medical education. As I worked in medical education research I became increasingly interested in the processes that medical trainees experience.

Today, that interest has led to a program of research on how surgical residents learn, account for, and interpret procedural variations. The main goal of the project is to develop theory around the influence of procedural variations on workplace-based assessment of postgraduate medical learners. My research is (very patiently) supervised by a pioneer in qualitative medical education research, Dr. Lorelei Lingard, and an innovative systems engineer, Dr. Sayra Cristancho.

Career Goals

I look forward to a career in clinical practice as well as in medical education research and leadership. Each generation of medical professionals benefits from new opportunities and faces new challenges. My goal is to play a role in identifying those opportunities and challenges early in their development and to build theory, educational interventions, and policies that rise to meet them.


Coupling the study of language, communication, and culture with the natural and clinical sciences is a difficult task. Both of these branches of science (and, I would argue, the arts) come with different communities, methods, and expectations. Finding a supportive group that excels in interdisciplinary study was critical to overcoming these challenges.

Published Refereed Papers

Cristancho S., Apramian T., Vanstone M., Lingard L., Ott M., Novick R. Understanding Clinical Uncertainty: What is Going on When Experienced Surgeons are not Sure What to Do? Academic Medicine. 88 (10): 1516-1521

Apramian, T. Tracking the Professionalization of Medical Students Using Blog Posts About Death. The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. Fall, 2012.

Published Fiction/Essays

Apramian, T. Oncology Sleep. CMAJ: The Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. (2013) 185:1255-1256

Reprinted in:

  • Western News (Western University, Campus Newsletter), June 20th, 2013
  • American Medical Student Association Medical Humanities Anthology, forthcoming, 2014

Apramian, T. On Hemingway’s Quay in Armenian Karabakh. Poydras Review. (2012) 2: 195-209