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Defining Personal Passion: A Physician’s Brand Expression

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
what inspires you[First of Two Parts] Pediatric Rheumatologist Dr. Paul Rosen—a regular contributor to our blog—offers insight for doctors about creating a meaningful message in the world-famous TED format…or any public presentation. The challenge for any physician is to discover their personal passion in healthcare, and to stand and deliver a compelling 18-minute talk.

“Speech is power. Speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. It is to bring another out of his bad sense into your good sense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As health systems consolidate and physician practices grow larger, it is easy for the individual physician to feel…anonymous.

Patients are often choosing to see a physician based on the brand of the group or health system. Physicians are also being chosen based on a patient’s insurance network and out-of-pocket expenses.

But despite the consolidation of medical practices, each physician can still develop his or her own individual brand. From a primary care physician with a special interest in asthma or weight management to a specialized surgeon known for a particularly challenging procedure, any physician can develop and promote his or her own unique passion.

Personal, professional passion is one antidote to what is unfortunately plaguing many of today’s physicians: feelings of loss of autonomy, lack of purpose and burnout.

The backstory to my TED experience began a couple of years ago when a friend suggested that I watch a TED (Technology, Education and Design) talk. I had never heard of TED talks before. Started in 1984, there are thousands of TED talks on topics such as leadership, science, innovation, and the arts. Every TED talk is under 18 minutes. The goal is to share one transformative idea (“ideas worth spreading” is the tag line).

After watching a few TED talks, I found myself going back to the website to see more. I learned about new ideas in astronomy, fashion design, architecture, exploration, computer science and anthropology. The less-than-18-minute timeframe made it easy to watch them on the couch with an iPad or to listen to them via a smart phone while walking the dogs. I was so enthralled with these talks that I started to share them with my kids and my colleagues.

After listening to these talks for months, I started to think about what I would talk about if I had the opportunity to give a TED talk. What would be the one idea I would want to share? What is my passion? What do I stand for?

I bought a book on how to deliver a TED talk. I read it cover to cover and started going over in my mind what my potential TED talk would be like. Upon reflecting about my passion and my career, I came up with this central idea: My purpose is to help transform health care so that patients always feel treated with respect, caring and understanding.

Soon after I finished the book, I learned that there was going to be a TED event in my hometown. I blocked my schedule so that I could attend. The TED event featured 18 speakers from the food and wine industry, the management industry, and from academics. Unexpectedly, I received a call from our hospital marketing director three weeks before the big event.

A slot opened on the TED speaker list. Would I be interested in giving a TED talk? I did not hesitate. I committed to doing it instantly.

CONCLUSION in Part Two: Defining Your Passion: Antidote for Doctor Burnout.

Paul Rosen, MD

For RELATED READING: Healthcare Public Speaking: Engaging the Power of Personal Persuasion.
TED, an internationally respected platform for ideas worth spreading, also presents as theme-focused events, such as TEDMED 2015 to be staged in Palm Springs, CA, November 18-20. TEDMED is the independently owned and operated health and medicine edition of the TED conference.
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