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Dr. Brian H. Williams led the trauma team that treated police officers ambushed by a sniper in Dallas, Texas, on July 7, 2016, the largest loss of life for US law enforcement since 9/11. At a press conference days later, his heartfelt comments about the tragedy touched thousands, and
Huffington Post named it one of the most memorable television moments of 2016. He has more than two decades of experience treating urban gun violence victims in Tampa, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas,and Chicago, and has served on the trauma faculty at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and at the University of Chicago.
MD Coaches, LLC provides leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians to overcome burnout, transition throughout your career, develop as a leader or meet your individual goals. Remember, you are not in this alone. Reach out to us today!
Williams graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. After six years on active duty, he enrolled at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and then completed a general surgery residency at Harvard Medical School and a fellowship in trauma and surgical critical care at Emory University. After the Dallas shooting, Williams became an international spokesperson for racial justice. In 2017 Mayor Rawlings appointed him chair of the Dallas Citizens Police Review Board. His leadership helped unite the Dallas Police Department, community activists, police associations, and City Council to revamp the role Dallas civilians play in police oversight.
In addition to his role as a trauma surgeon, Williams served as a congressional health policy advisor in the US Senate and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is a guest commentator on CNN, keynote speaker, opinion writer featured in the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and Newsweek, and host of the podcast Race, Violence & Medicine. Williams and his wife of 17 years are raising a strong-willed 12-year-old daughter and two lovable dogs.
Dr. William’s Prescription for Success:
Number 1: No matter what you are doing, think about the end goal.
Number 2: Be of service.
Number 3: Be humble.
Connect with Dr. Williams
Notable quotes from Dr. William’s interview:
I felt that there’s more I should be doing to impact things on a systemic level. Couldn’t explain how that should happen, but I knew that there was more I should be doing.
And that shooting in the aftermath is when I began to think more about how I can contribute to the healing of our community and began to pursue ways to serve outside of the hospital.
We had a chance to socialize with kids from all over the country and all over the world that were doing the same thing as we were doing, which was moving to different places.
I felt proud that [my father] was doing something that was bigger than himself. And by being in his family, I felt that we were special to be a part of that, in some way.
I knew that that word, the N-word, was meant only for me, right? And even the first time I’d been called that, It really felt like a kick in the gut.
Access the Show Transcript Here
[0:00] Although I am a well-trained doctor, I feel I’m doing good work, I felt that there’s more I should be doing to impact things on a systemic level. Couldn’t explain how that should happen, but I knew that there was more I should be doing. And that was a struggle in the aftermath of that shooting is, okay, you’ve been through all these years of training, you have these skills, you’ve achieved success, you’re doing well, but there was always this but there needed to be more.
And that shooting in the aftermath is when I began to think more about how I can contribute to, the healing of our community and began to pursue ways to serve outside of the hospital.
Welcome to the Prescription for Success Podcast with your host, Dr. Randy Cook.
Introducing Prescription for Success podcast and guest Dr. Brian Williams
[1:25] Hello everyone and welcome to Prescription for Success. I’m Dr. Randy Cook, your host for the podcast, which is a production of MD Coaches, providing leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians. To overcome burnout, transition your career, as a leader, or whatever your goal might be, visit MDCoaches on the web at MyMDCoaches.com because you’re not in this alone. And don’t forget, CME credit is available when you listen with us. Just look for CMFI in the show notes to learn how. My guest today is a Harvard University trained surgeon and former Congressional Health Care Policy Advisor. He’s had academic appointments at three different medical universities. He’s been a very important voice in conversations on structural racism, gun violence, and healthcare equity. He’s just released a splendid new book about his life as a trauma surgeon, and most recently, he’s preparing to run for Congress.
[2:28] So let’s hear my conversation with Dr. Brian Williams. I’m really looking forward to my conversation today with Dr. Brian Williams.
Brian, thank you very much for joining us today. I’m glad you could be here.
[2:46] And I want to make sure I know where you are today. Are you back in Texas?
First of all, Randy, thank you very much for having me on the show.
And yes, I am back in Texas. And today it’s actually raining, so it’s a little bit of a reprieve from the heat we’ve been dealing with for the past few weeks.
It does get hot out there at times, does it not?
Yes, it does, it does, yes, it does. All right. You got such an incredible story, Brian, and a book to go along with it.
I could probably make this a three or four part interview, but we’re gonna try to condense everything into this one little space that we have.
Childhood as a military brat and experiences with diversity
[3:22] As always, Brian, I like to begin at the beginning. As they said in Alice in Wonderland, let’s talk about your early life and your family. You grew up to coin a phrase, a military brat.
So can you tell us about that?
Yes, my father was a career Air Force non-commissioned officer, spent 23 years in the enlisted ranks.
So my sister and I, and my mother, we were a core nuclear family, with a dog that moves around the world to various Air Force bases as my father was serving.
That was how I grew up.
As a child, I didn’t realize that that was not normal for people.
[4:03] We had a chance to socialize with kids from all over the country and all over the world that were doing the same thing as we were doing, which was moving to different places.
You know, looking back, I realized how that kind of helped formed my, how I internalize what it meant.
The diversity meant and inclusion and typically service, you know, just watching my brother put on his uniform every day and go to work, I felt proud that he was doing something that was bigger than himself. And by being in his family, I felt that we were special to be a part of that, in some way. So those are the kind of values that I learned as a young child, just being a military kid, but also the chance to just see all parts of the country.
[4:48] See many parts of the world is an experience that I wish many more people could have. Like Mark Twain said, right, travel is, we’ll get rid of prejudice.
I can’t remember the exact quote he said, but it’s something about if you travel and meet other people, you will learn to have a more inclusive mindset about who you interact with. Absolutely, and I am going to ask you to comment on one little thing that I picked up on in the book, Brian, which is a brilliant piece of writing, I might add. You actually mentioned in there that you were almost completely oblivious to the notion of racial differences, but it did begin to appear in your childhood. As, I recall, around age eight or nine or somewhere thereabouts. Do you remember the part that I’m talking about? Had something to do with inclusion in a pickup baseball game, I think.
Exactly. My core group of friends back then, we were a diverse racial and ethnic group that did pretty much everything together. And one of our favorite pastimes was playing pickup baseball after school. But it was around that time that it was the first time I was called a racial slur at one of these games. It never happened to me before. And at that time, I knew that that word, the N-word, was meant only for me, right? And even the the first time I’d been called that, It really felt like a kick in the gut.
[6:13] I was embarrassed, but I was also really angry that that had happened, and also so angry that my friends stood around and remained silent.
So I used that incident to describe … I mean, it’s kind of an example of what’s happening in the larger world, right?
Is when there is injustice, we can’t remain silent. We have to step up and act.
But at that time, a bunch of kids, that’s when I really began to understand how being, Being a young black male in this society put me in a different category in many ways, where.
[6:49] Despite doing everything correctly and behaving well, that in many ways I would still be deemed a threat or less than simply because I was black.
These things have an effect on children, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, and a lot of the book is describing how growing up with that reality and how it’s triggered over into to my adult personal and professional life and how I’ve come out on the other side to use that to basically try to make the world a better place.
Yeah, and there really are some great examples that you point out in the book with respect to exactly what you’re talking about.
And you do it in a way that is so profoundly wise, in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before.
And that alone is one of the best reasons, I think, to read this book.
Because being able to see that phenomenon of racism and discrimination through the eyes of someone who has experienced it.
[7:53] But yet is able to deal with it without being gripped by anger is a very valuable thing, I think, to those of us who have never been there. So thank you so much for your wisdom in that regard. Let’s move along a little bit and get you educated. You certainly aimed for the stars, as it were, when you went out to get a college education. Tell us about your entry into the United States Air Force Academy. Getting accepted to the Air Force Academy and graduating is undoubtedly a transformative and signature experience in my life and really set me up for success in the later years. I knew I was going to go into the military, just the example my father set and many of my relatives said I was used to that lifestyle, but I was also a first generation college graduate. I was the first in our family to go to college and to get into a service academy was a huge deal. I bet it was. It had to be a celebration I’m thinking.
It was a celebration but there was also there’s also some weight that that came with that and I would say it’s good weight but I knew that there were expectations now that I was not just going to college but going off to become an Air Force officer and what that meant to to serve afterwards but that time period I just had a chance to do and experience things that few 18-year-old kids get to do at that.
[9:22] Time in their life.
And I just met people who were all extraordinary in their own right, and these are still my closest friends to this day.
So I’m really grateful for that experience, but also it was a chance to internalize these values about service before self and the expectation that by coming to the Academy and graduating, We were expected to go off and do great things for the country, in uniform and out.
[9:51] And I’ve always just felt that no matter what I was doing, I had a responsibility to carry on that legacy, even as a doctor.
And the time I spent on the Hill working as a health policy advisor, it’s always about what can I do to be of service to the greater good. And I credit my time at the Academy to helping me internalize those values.
And I think the most fascinating thing about that entire story is when you got underway at the academy, your intent at that point was a career in aeronautical engineering.
And then one day, you just woke up and decided you were going to go to medical school.
Can you tell us how that came about? Yes. Yes.
[10:34] I wish it were that simple. I majored in aeronautical engineering. I liked planes. I liked math.
I was always into science. And it was clearly a natural fit for me. And when I was on active duty, that’s my career. I spent time using my aero degree working on Air Force research and development programs. There came a time where it was time for me to move on to my next assignment. And I was talking to one of my friends who had the same background his eye, Air Force Academy graduate, aeroengineer, and he said he was going to go to medical school.
And in the back of my mind, I had this thought about doing the same thing, right, but I never pursued it because my understanding was that to go to medical school, you have to be premed and undergrad. And I wasn’t.
I was an engineer. I learned from him that it’s necessary. There’s only four or five classes you need to take to be considered premed, as you know, and you can major in anything after that.
A Tremendous Shift in Career Path
[11:31] The core the core curriculum at the Academy was so rigorous for us that we basically had the pre-med requirements already, This was a matter of taking the MCAT after talking to them I said, you know what?
I’ve been thinking about this if I’ve already checked most of the boxes I want to go to medical school and become a doctor and that was a tremendous shift You know, I was kind of on a trajectory in the Air Force, basically stopped that And made a dramatic change in direction direction and went to medical school and I have no regrets I have no regrets at all.
Everything happened before was setting me up for the next step.
The Academy set me up for my active duty career.
My time as an engineer set me up for medical school.
[12:13] Hi, I’m Rhonda Crowe, founder and CEO for MD Coaches. Here on Rx for Success, we interview a lot of great medical professionals on how they grew their careers, how they overcame challenges, and how they handle day-to-day work.
I really hope you’re getting a lot of great information, but if you’re looking for an answer to a specific problem, management or administration challenge, or if you’re feeling just a bit burnt out, like maybe you chose the wrong career? Well, then there’s a faster way to get the help you need. No, it’s not counseling. It’s coaching. Rx for Success is produced by MD Coaches, a team of physicians who have been where you are. I know you’re used to going it alone, but you don’t have to. Get the support you need today. Visit Visit us at mymdcoaches.com to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Again that’s mymdcoaches.com because you’re not in this alone.
[13:17] We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment, but right now I want to tell you a little bit about Physician Outlook.
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Discovering Passion for Medicine at University of South Florida
[14:16] That’s a really great deal on this stunning publication. And now let’s get back to today’s interview.
And when you showed up at University of South Florida, which is a great school, by the way, I spent my first more than a decade in private practice across the bay from Tampa.
But University of South Florida, where you got your medical education, once you got there.
[14:41] Did you think, yep, this is it, this is exactly where I belong, or were there some trepidations at all?
What was your attitude? I enjoyed the heck out of medical school.
When I arrived there, I just fell right into it.
I was 27 or 28 when I started medical school, so most folks are going straight through, they’re graduating at that point, becoming MDs. I was a little bit older when I arrived there.
I feel that my experience in the military and the responsibilities I had then helped me to navigate the rigors of medical school, just time management, because there’s too much to cover.
To cover, right? You need to learn and focus on the things that are really important to, progress your education. So I felt less stressed about that, but it was also nice, Randy. I, I spent my entire life in the Air Force, which.
I loved, right? It was a chance for me to do something outside of the Air Force and see what it’s like to kind of be on my own.
[15:40] The Air Force, there was always, you know, they took care of my education.
When I was on that duty, I had things like health coverage.
But being in medical school, I had a chance to just be on my own and see if I could fly.
And I just had a great time.
And again, another group of great, great friends that I’m still close with to this day.
But I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and had no regrets, trepidation, when I arrived on the campus.
Well, you must have been alive. It’s kind of been paradise, right?
You can’t complain about being. Yeah, not a bad place to be.
I’ll go along with that.
And you must have been a pretty good student because you landed yourself a residency, at Harvard at Brigham and Women’s.
Did you know early on that surgery was where you wanted to be or how did you come to that decision?
I did not know. When I went to medical school, I wanted to become a doctor.
And I was just taking it semester by semester, moving along.
And then we get to the point where we’re doing our clinical rotations and the shadowing, getting to experience different specialties. And I remember my first clinical rotation as a third-year student was on surgery at, Tampa General Hospital.
Finding Calling as a Trauma Surgeon
[17:00] And I think it was the third week, we started my trauma rotation.
[17:06] We’re doing an elective here, elective there, trauma, then a month of general surgery if I recall.
And it was the second day of trauma surgery, on call, and this trauma activation comes and the team went to action.
And I said, that’s it, this is what I want to do, I want to be a trauma surgeon.
I mean, I was set from that point on, and it just grabbed me.
I just, these were my people, I don’t know how to describe it.
I knew that the people that worked in trauma, these were my kind of people that I wanted to work with and be around.
[17:40] Those 3 a.m. trauma animations on a Saturday, I wanted to be there for that.
And from that point on, I was set to become a trauma surgeon.
The whole atmosphere of life and the world of trauma clearly was a place where you felt like you belonged. Exactly. The fast pace, the quick decision-making, the camaraderie amongst the team. It’s a special type of team in the ED and in the OR that wants to be there after midnight on weekends doing this work, right? Right.
And so the work is fascinating and fun, but also people wake up and they do not expect to to get a critical injury, right?
So we get to be there for them during these times that they didn’t expect, be there for the patients and their families.
So there is this humanistic side to trauma that I think does not get enough recognition, but it’s also very important.
It’s not just the procedures and the things that are dramatized in the media, but it’s also sitting in a room, with a family member talking to them about their loved ones injuries and what we’re going to do to take care of them and what.
[18:53] That means to just be there for a stranger in some of the most trying times of their lives.
And I think that your fascination with it and your love for that particular specialty is sort of reflected in what you did over the next several years.
It wasn’t like you just finished your residency and went to work.
We did a research fellowship in shock trauma, a trauma fellowship at the University of Minnesota.
Emory Grady in Atlanta and then another Critical Care Fellowship at Emory.
You were serious about this thing it seems.
I wanted to be as well trained as any trauma surgeon on the planet.
I set that high bar for myself.
It’s something we talk about the Academy a lot is set high but achievable goals.
And I had a high bar for myself.
But I was also around really fantastic surgeons.
I was fortunate, Randy, that I was trained by surgeons who were icons, the ones that wrote the books for general surgery, trauma surgery, and critical care.
So just being in an atmosphere of excellence was motivating to me to pursue that same level of excellence.
[20:08] So at the Brigham, walking the halls with these icons that have done so many great things and surgery and getting to operate with them and learn from them was formative for me.
Heading down to Atlanta to do trauma and critical care at Grady Hospital with another group of really iconic and influential surgeons, I just feel fortunate to have had that experience.
And when I was done with my training, I really felt it was my responsibility to continue to pay that forward to future trainings.
I look back on that all the time, very, very fond memories, sleep deprived, yes, stressful at times, and trying, but definitely, definitely well worth it.
Yeah, it’s a different kind of, it’s difficult to say that you enjoy those years, but on the other hand, when you look back on it, I know that you are really glad and really proud that you were exactly where you were.
Interestingly, once you achieved your credentials and had that excellent training, and you were in Boston and Atlanta, you decided to put down your own roots in one of the most famous trauma centers there is at Parkland Hospital at UT Southwestern.
How did you happen to land that job?
[21:24] I always knew that when I was done with my training and out on my own, I wanted to work at a safety net hospital because I always felt that the underserved deserved the best sort of health care regardless of their socioeconomic status, so I knew that that was what I was going to do.
[21:46] As a trauma surgeon, I wanted to be at a hospital that had high volume, high acuity trauma, that sort of pace and challenge is what drew me to the specialty in the first place.
And Parkland Hospital, as you mentioned, is an iconic place for in trauma.
The burn formerly was developed here, is known for, JFK died and Leo Harvey Oswald died.
So there’s these moments that have placed Parkland Hospital on the national landscape, but it’s also a phenomenal institution as far as treating the underserved.
[22:23] So one of my former, from my intern class, she was here already at the hospital working and she said, Hey, Brian, they’re looking for another trauma surgeon.
Should look into this. I did, came out, met the trauma team, saw people in the hospital. You could feel the pride just walking around. I said, this is it. Let’s come here and do the work. And it was a great decision. I had a chance to do the work I wanted to do in the hospital, but also be on faculty at UT Southwestern. I could teach residents and fellows and students and also, you know, do some research.
So, it kind of checked all the boxes I wanted to do with my career in academic medicine.
Operate, teach, and do research.
Of course, the big things for me were the clinical and the education part.
So, it sounds like at that point in your life, things were about as good as you could hope to expect, and even though there was the emotional struggle that one lives with as a trauma surgeon, You felt like you were really doing a worthwhile job.
And then there was a really pivotal turning point on a particular date, July 7, 2016, and things really changed for you. And I’m going to let you go ahead and describe that event for us, if you will.
Traumatic Night: Mass Shooting of Dallas Police Officers
[23:44] Clearly, that was a moment that everything changed for me professionally and personally.
This is the day we had a mass shooting of Dallas police officers in downtown Dallas.
And it was also the night I was on call as a trauma surgeon at Parkland Hospital.
There were 14 police officers shot, seven were brought to Parkland, and seven were taken to a Crosstown hospital.
And this is still a night I think about every day. Three of the police officers that were brought to our hospital had critical injuries and died from their wounds.
There was a moment I had to go tell one of the families about the death of their son.
And this is something that those of us that work in trauma surgery and emergency medicine, we do this routinely.
And after I told them about that, I left the room, the family room where we were talking, and I went down this back hallway by myself, and I’m just overcome with emotion.
I fell to the floor and I was crying. I mean, just convulsively crying, Randy.
[24:51] I don’t cry, I hadn’t cried in decades before that night, and there I was.
And she asked me to explain why, still unpacking all that.
But if you recall during that time period, that shooting happened at a protest, a peaceful protest downtown, that came out of the deaths of the prior two days of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, who were shot and killed during police encounters.
So there are protests all over the country to bring awareness of these ongoing shootings.
Our protest in Dallas was one that turned violent.
It was also 2016, there was an election going on that time. Just take yourself back to that time.
There was a lot going on in the country in regards to politics, racial justice, gun violence, police brutality, and just it was snowballing.
And for me, that night, we just kind of all just burst loose.
Just the amount of gun violence I’d seen, the loss of these police officers, my personal struggles with like, What am I supposed to be doing with my life?
Although I am a well-trained doctor. I feel I’m doing good work. I felt that there’s more I should be doing to.
[26:05] Impact things on a systemic level, couldn’t explain how that should happen, but I knew that there was more I should be doing and.
[26:15] That was a struggle in the aftermath of that shooting is okay. You’ve been through all these years of training You have these skills you’ve achieved success you’re doing well but there was always this but there needed to be more and that that shooting in the aftermath is when I began to think more about how I can contribute to, the healing of our community and began to pursue ways to serve outside of the hospital. And if you will Brian I’d like for you to talk a little bit about the point in the book that I found most profoundly moving and that is it sounds like the crystallization of that reality that you’re talking about right now seem to have really landed on you with the most force during a press conference when you and other doctors were speaking to the press about that terrible event on July 7th.
Press Conference: Addressing Racism and Gun Violence
[27:15] And people were kind of saying the usual things that they usually say about thoughts and prayers and this and that. And your message was a little different.
Can you talk about that at all?
Yes. So we had a press conference four days after the shooting.
And I think we’re probably used to now what these press conferences are like after these mass shootings.
[27:36] And I was initially asked to attend and I first declined. I was in a really difficult psychological spot after July 7th and those deaths were still really weighing very heavily on me.
I felt I had, I mean, I really felt I had failed in saving these police officers.
I recognized that that was incongruent with reality, but how I felt is how I felt.
[28:02] And I really, I just checked out for a few days, even though I was going to work, because I still had to work the day after and the day after that.
I wasn’t watching the news, not reading the newspaper, just completely detached from what was happening because this was a dominant news story and hearing it was a trigger for me and I wanted to avoid it.
So when I was asked to do the press conference, I said, absolutely not.
I do not want to be in front of cameras, living this event. You all can go and I will stay out of it.
It was my wife, really, who was a really essential character in this book.
She is indeed, I’m impressed with that. She said, look, get over yourself.
This is bigger than you.
You have to go.
And her point that she went on to make was, you’ve been checked out for a few days, you have no idea what’s happening, but there is this echo chamber of Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or I think it was like words of the country is tearing itself apart.
So in a saying that all black men are evil and dangerous, you need to be there so they can see.
[29:09] That there was a black trauma surgeon trying to save these police officers.
So you’re the only one with this perspective that can share that.
[29:17] They said, if you don’t want to say anything, just show up so they can see that you were there.
So I went to the press conference.
I had no speaking part. I was just going to sit there and be seen, which, you know, that’s a separate discussion about the power of presence and representation, right?
Just being somewhere can make a difference without saying anything.
But I did speak because as the press conference progressed, what was being said, what was not being said really did not sit well with me. We had a mass shooting of police officers, at a protest for racial justice, and the shooter was Black. We cannot ignore how race and policing and racism and policing and gun violence were intertwined in this event. And I felt I had to say something about that. But I also knew that, or I felt that that was not my role, right? And if I spoke up right now I would probably get fired and that’d be the end of my career, but in the end I decided if I don’t say something now it’ll never be said and, this is an opportunity to bring some light to this issue. So I spoke my words were unplanned. I just spoke the truth about how I felt about the situation.
And I sat back and thought to myself, well, Brian, tomorrow you’ll be looking for a new job.
[30:40] But I still felt relieved, Randy. I felt there was this weight. I didn’t have to pretend anymore, right? I felt I’d been pretending for so long. Now the truth was out there. And I felt like I felt like light as a feather. And whatever happened, happened.
And what happened was that shortly thereafter, you made a really big change, in the course of your career.
You wanna tell us about that?
Career Change: Resigning and Venturing into Politics
[31:05] Yeah, so everything changed after the press conference. My relationships with friends, family, colleagues, everything, Randy, changed.
And but most important is the relationship that I had with myself and what I felt I should be doing with my life.
So the next year, a year later, almost a year to the day, is when I resigned my faculty position at the school, medical school.
And I moved on, I was doing other things. I was chair of the police review board for City of Dallas.
So I had a chance to serve as a political appointee, working on what I could do with my experience to heal the wounds between police and community members.
[31:47] I spent some time in Chicago, helping to evolve a new trauma center on the South side.
One of my old mentors recruited me to come up there for a while, so I did that.
And most recently, I went to Washington and was serving as a Robin Wood Johnson Foundation policy fellow.
Which gave me the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and work on federal health policy legislation with the perspective of a doctor from the front lines who understands what it means to interact with patients. And I could give them my perspective and my experience, and they taught me the process of developing these laws. So I have a much greater appreciation now for what happens in Washington and how that affects, you know, your and my day-to-day work.
[32:36] Caring for patients. So, I mean, from the shooting, the professional trajectory dramatically changed, and I feel I’ve used that to try to, I had to integrate that into my life to do something good with it, and that’s what I’m trying to do. And personally, marriage, fatherhood, friendships, those have all changed and that’s really forced me to look at the importance of spending time with the people who depend on me but who I am also dependent on as well. I had the feeling when I read that portion of the book that this was the story of the awakening of a bit of a sleeping giant and in fact that has, continued to be the case, not only did you continue to be a very effective, clinician for quite a number of years, in addition to your community service, you have decided to get really involved and I don’t know how much, and it’s a a relatively new decision on your part.
[33:43] You have decided to get into the ring with the politicians and I’m really interested in, How you came to that really profound?
[33:54] Decision and tell us a little bit about your plans. Yeah, so in in May of this year I, launched my campaign to Become a member of the United States House of Representatives.
District 32: A Continuation of Public Service
[34:07] This is district 32 in in Dallas I feel it’s really just a continuation of my record of public service from the time I was in the military, serving as a trauma surgeon, spending some time on the Hill as an advisor.
Just looking back, there’s natural progression there. This is an open seat.
The incumbent has vacated the seat because he’s running for Senate.
So it’s an open seat in this district.
And really the times, I think, call for people like you and I, Randy, that understand the healthcare crisis we’re in. We have an epidemic of gun violence.
We have healthcare accessibility and affordability issues.
And there are only 19 doctors in Congress. So whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, I think we need to see more doctors and healthcare professionals, period, who understand what’s at stake to help develop these laws that impact our profession and our patients.
So it’s really responding to the call during a time of crisis, which is, like I said, back at the Academy, we were taught these things. Like when there’s a crisis, we answer the call.
So I’m fortunate that I have been connected with some experienced campaigners who are focused on electing more doctors and scientists and teachers, but also get more veterans in.
Representation has decreased over the past couple of decades. And there’s been a corresponding increase in gridlock. So I think people recognize that having veterans in office, we understand, service before self.
In a way that civilians do not and I don’t mean that to disparage people haven’t served, But going to Congress and working with people who may not think like you and have different backgrounds It’s important because the mission matters and our mission is to serve our communities and do what’s best for them for their country, So that is why I’m running I’ve decided that it’s time for me to take my experience from the military and health care and, and be someone at the table in Congress that gets to submit the bill that will certainly address issues of healthcare, gun violence prevention, and also just kind of be a voice for those of us that are working on the front lines that are dependent upon Congress to help us do our jobs.
Well, I know for sure that you’re gonna be missed at the bedside, but that said, your capacity and your opportunity to influence things that happen not only at the bedside, but in the everyday life of individuals in this country.
[36:54] Is a tremendous opportunity.
And it really brightens my soul when somebody decides to come into it from this sort of perspective that you have.
I think a lot of the people in Congress are folks that have kind of always wanted to be politicians.
With you, it’s a little different. You’re going there because you wanna make the world better.
And God bless you for that. And I wish you the best of luck. Hope it works out.
Thank you very much, Randy. I appreciate the support. I appreciate the support.
Before we move along, and I’m about ready to close things out for us, but I do wanna give you an opportunity to talk a little bit more about your book.
This is really a tremendous piece of work. It’s great reading, not only for health care professionals, but for every citizen of the United States.
The title is called The Bodies Keep Coming, Dispatches from a Black Trauma Surgeon on Racism, Violence, and How We Heal.
A little bit more, you mentioned some things earlier about how you made the decision to start the book.
But can you tell us a little bit more about what and what went into the birthing of this project.
[38:14] Yeah, so the seeds of the book actually began from an assignment that my therapist gave me.
I was in therapy, and I think that’s something we should destigmatize and embrace, actually giving me help when we need to.
But she gave me an assignment to write a trauma narrative, which I…
[38:34] Ignored for about a year. I was one of those patients. But when I finally came around to doing it, I sat down and I thumb typed a few hundred words, stream of thought, you know, on a Google Docs on my phone. And that became the genesis for the book.
So I didn’t plan to write a book, but that was a start of this book, which is, I mean, I mean, it’s a deeply personal memoir, where we’re talking about racism and violence, but it’s meant to be hopeful, Randy.
We talk about some very heavy topics, but I want to say that there is hope, and here is how we can get there.
So you get my personal story, but I also want, I’m an academic, I’m sharing information, that you can look for yourself.
It’s not just my opinion, here are some other information you can look at as well.
But I wanted to use my story to address some of the bigger issues of our time that we are grappling with, racial justice.
Well, it is beautifully written and just uncommonly informative.
And as I say, not just for health care professionals, but for the public at large.
And I want to congratulate you on a really monumental piece of work, I think.
[39:52] Thank you. We’re at the point where, my favorite part of the show, where I like to get out of the way and give you a chance to give us some words without my interruption.
[40:08] So that’s what we’re going to do, audience. I’m going to close my mic temporarily and Dr. Brian Williams is going to share his personal prescriptions for success.
So, my prescriptions for success, I have three, and the first is no matter what you’re doing, think about the end goal.
Second is be somewhat of service, and the third is humility, and I’ll unpack those a little bit.
So, as far as thinking about the end goal and having that in mind, there are numerous leadership books written about this topic in some various form, but for me, I remember Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, where he talks about to be successful, you need to have the end goal in mind.
So whatever you do should be focused on achieving that end goal, whether it’s in your work or it was with your family, or whatever you’re doing, what is the points of what you were doing and what you hope to achieve of that.
For example, I think it’s easy to identify a product you’re working on and what the end goal is there, but also with your family.
If you’re gonna go on vacation, The point is, I guess, to get closer with your family and enjoy yourselves.
If you’re spiritual and go to church, why do you go to church every weekend?
Do you just go to just go, or are you hoping to get some sort of spiritual enrichment out of that?
So that’s what I mean by what is the end goal of what you’re doing, and that permeates your life. I think that will bring more enrichment to each of us.
[41:34] Be of service. Again, this is something I just internalized from watching my father serve in the military.
That I internalize as an Air Force officer is that those of us that have the ability to do big things.
[41:49] We should think about being of service to others.
Everything we should do, I mean, not everything, but we should always be thinking about what can we do to serve the greater good?
And lastly is humility. We as doctors, we have all this training and all these degrees, and we have a degree of respect in society to speak by virtue of our professional status.
But we can still be of service and be humble about that. I don’t think that I’m above anyone.
I try to treat everyone with the humanity and respect they deserve. And that’s how I try to approach my life. Just think about what I’m doing, what I hope to achieve, be of service and be humble about it. Well, Dr. Brian Williams, I want to thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us today and for being with us on Prescriptions for Success. Before we go, I want to give you an opportunity to share with our audience where they can find you if you’ve got what talk about book a little bit where it can be found and how you can be contacted absolutely so running the book and other personal endeavors you can, find me at BrianWilliamsMD.com and I spell Brian the correct way with an I so it’s BrianWilliamsMD.com we talked about my campaign for Congress that is a separate entity that’s drbryanwilliams4congress.com.
[43:19] As far as social, I’m most active on Twitter, which is at bhwilliamsmd.
So those are three places you want to find me.
Personal stuff, book bhwilliamsmd.com, campaign drbryanwilliams4congress.com, and social bhwilliamsmd.
MD. Dr. Brian Williams, thanks so much for joining us today on Prescriptions for Success.
Randy, this was really fun. I thank you very much for making this happen. Appreciate the opportunity. Thank you so much for listening with us today. If you enjoyed the show, please help us reach more listeners by leaving a rating and a review, especially on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. And if your app doesn’t support that option, just leave us an email or a voicemail through speakpipe at www.rx4successpodcast.com.
You can also help by becoming a Patreon member.
That link is in the show notes. And we hope you’ll also follow our companion podcast, Life Changing Moments with Dr. Dale Waxman.
Special thanks to our producer, Craig Clausen, our promotions manager, Mariana Rodabaugh, to Ryan Jones, who created and performs our theme music. And remember, be sure to fill your prescription for success with my next episode.