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Defining Your Passion: Antidote for Doctor Burnout

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
Inspirational talk TED[Second of Two Parts] The concluding guest post installment from Pediatric Rheumatologist Dr. Paul Rosen about the challenging, self-discovery process of creating a compelling 18-minute public presentation.
Although a TED talk is one example, doctors can use similar, public forum opportunities to draw on and express their passion for the profession and the people they serve.
See Part One of this article: Defining Personal Passion: A Physican’s Brand Expression.

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” –Mark Twain

A TED event was planned in my hometown, and just three weeks in advance, a slot opened on the speaker list. Would I be interested in giving a TED talk? I committed to doing it instantly.

Watching TED talks and reading about their delivery was one thing, but could I execute it? I started writing a draft immediately. The draft circulated to my friends, to my family and to our marketing director. The talk needed work.

I had my passion and my central idea, but the talk needed to be coherent, engaging, and the central message had to come through clearly. Multiple rewrites later, the final version was ready just a couple of days before the event. TED organizers frown on the use of Teleprompters and notecards, so now it was time to memorize the whole talk.

I spent the morning of the event listening to the other speakers. My turn was approaching in 30 minutes. My nervous energy started to kick in. It was time to take the stage. I stumbled on my first sentence but then went on to deliver my talk. I could feel my passion for my idea coming through.

I had a sense from the audience that I was connecting with them. I knew my talk had resonated when I was done. Many of the audience members approached me and started telling me about the experiences their loved ones had in hospitals and how we needed to do better.

Preparing and delivering a TED talk was an amazing experience. The final product was the result of a lot of advice and support I received from my friends and family. I feel that I have a clear picture of what my brand is based on: my passion...to help transform health care so that patients always feel treated with respect, caring and understanding.

For this year’s TED talk in my city, the TED organizers asked me to recommend speakers. I suggested one of the medical students whom I mentor. He suffered a spinal cord injury during medical school. He left for one year to recover and was able to return to school.

He is graduating next week and will go on to start his residency at one of the Harvard hospitals. He will deliver an amazing TED talk describing his journey and how he will use his own medical experience to be a better doctor.

I also recommended as a speaker a physician colleague who is an amazing surgeon, mother, wife, fundraiser and teacher. She is one of the most productive surgeons I have ever met. She did so many surgeries, gave so many talks, and published so many articles, that she was promoted to be a professor of surgery in her early 40's.

However, during her journey she realized that she did not have enough time for her family and she became burned out. She recovered from burnout and is now careful to ensure her work and family life are in balance. The experience inspired her to talk to other women and to other physicians about the importance of maintaining a good work life balance. She will also deliver an inspiring talk.

Practicing medicine as the industry undergoes major transformation can be unsettling, frustrating, and even frightening. But despite all the changes, physicians are still entrusted by their patients to relieve suffering, offer peace of mind, and to connect one human being to another on a profound emotional level. We must all define our passion.

Watch: Empathy: The Next Revolution in Health Care -- Dr. Rosen’s talk at the local TEDx event in Wilmington, DE.

Paul Rosen, MD

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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