About Claire Unis

Claire majored in creative writing and literature at Dartmouth College, where she started out writing for and publishing a student newspaper. By senior year she had become a regular columnist in the daily school paper. While in medical school at UCSF, she enrolled in the MFA program at USF, where she focused on writing memoir and narrative nonfiction. She completed both degrees simultaneously. Now a practicing pediatrician, Claire is also a communication coach for other clinicians in one of the largest medical groups in northern California. She teaches classes and shadows other physicians as part of Sutter Medical Group's Clinician Wellbeing Program. She writes a weekly blog about doctoring. In her role as Literature in Medicine Champion, she also leads monthly book groups, a biweekly writing group, and biweekly discussions of short stories with writing exercises.

In Claire's free time, she enjoys horseback riding, skiing, mountain biking, yoga, spending time with her family, traveling, and writing poetry. She has recently completed a memoir she started while in medical school. She lives in Auburn, California, with her husband and 2 children, 1 horse, 2 donkeys, 2 dogs, 10 chickens, and a pet conure. 

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My Latest Projects


LIFE: Literary Inspiration for Expression

I created these classes with busy clinicians in mind. Every two weeks we examine a short story or poem, using literature as a jumping-off point for discussion about the human experience. At the end of class, I offer a writing prompt and the opportunity to free-write for 5 minutes. Sharing is not mandatory, but many find themselves delighted by the self-reflection this engenders.


Balance, Pedal, Breathe:
A Journey Through Medical School

Begun during my tenure as a medical student (and graduate student), this memoir has recently been edited and completed. In light of current high rates of physician burnout, especially with the stress of the pandemic, a book about getting through medical school without losing one's compassion has turned out to be remarkably timely. (Published April 2022. More information and orders here.)