The Wounded Healer: Omar Reda, MD

Omar Reda is a board-certified psychiatrist, a Harvard-trained trauma expert, an author, and a family advocate, but most importantly a dreamer and strong believer in the potential of finding beauty in all human encounters.

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When working with traumatized individuals, families, and communities, caregivers are not only prone to vicarious trauma listening to the stories of others, but many tend to neglect their needs and boundaries, risking compassion fatigue and burnout. 

The act of caregiving is physically exhausting and emotionally draining, yet caregivers describe it as rewarding and gratifying. Prolonged exposure to human suffering, however, is not without risks, caregivers report high rates of burnout and poor quality of life, hence the importance of selfcare and tending to the soul.

Many care providers believe that their feelings do not matter, and that they should ignore their pain, brush off their trauma, wipe away their tears, and just “suck it up” and keep going. The Wounded Healer calls upon healers to break free from cycles of secrecy, toxic stress, and silent suffering so they can continue to empower and inspire those they care for.

Dr. Reda’s Prescription for Success:

Number 1: Be brave enough to confront your trauma and toxic stress in your life.

Number 2: Yes, take care of others. But don’t forget your own needs.

Number 3: Don’t close the American Dream by chasing it. Don’t focus only on the materialistic elements.

Connect with Dr. Reda

The Book: The Wounded Healer: The Pain and Joy of Caregiving
Website: dromarreda.com
Project Untangled: projectuntangled.org
Email: dromarareda@gmail.com

Notable quotes from Dr. Reda’s interview:

I’d rather try to understand where the other person’s coming from. Educate and make a connection – build a bridge.

When I created the space in my heart for her suffering we ended up having a nice conversation.

Their trauma story will break their family unit so that’s why untangled focuses heavily on healing and a family context.

I really don’t respond to hate through hate or violence I’d rather try to understand where the other person’s coming from.

I can no longer bear false witness to their suffering and I wanted to become their voice so I wrote The Wounded Healer.

I would be extremely successful if I lose my job because there is no more trauma in the world and my services are no longer needed.


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Access the Show Transcript Here

 

Transcript

[0:00] Before we get into Today’s show I want to tell you about a new offering from MD coaches.
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[0:55] Arrested and thrown in jail because of my humanitarian activities taken care of widows and orphans.

[1:07] Paging dr. cook paging dr. cook dr. Turk you wanted in the OR.

[1:14] Music.

[1:37] 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.
Develop as a leader or whatever your goal might be visit empty coaches on the web at my MD coaches.com because you’re not in this alone.
And don’t forget CME credit is available when you listen with us just look forward see mfi in the show notes to learn how.
My guest today is a Libyan born psychiatrist who has lived through the trauma of Civil War and dislocation from his homeland and family.

[2:24] Today he’s a Harvard trained expert in psychological trauma I’m glad you could join me today for this very compelling story,
from Dr Omar Reda and I’m honored today to be speaking with dr. Omar Rita out in the Portland Oregon area am I right about that Omar yes.
And first of all thank you so much for taking the time to be with us and welcome to prescription for success.

[2:54] Thank you Randy’s my pleasure this is really a compelling story that you have Omar and and I just can’t wait to,
get into it but as we always do I want to begin with your early life and talk about how you got interested in medicine I know that you grew up in Libya and I’m curious to know it about what age you became interested in a life and Medicine,
yeah thank you so it was very early actually at age 6 I lost my sister she was only 14,
so she became blind and we didn’t know what was going on with her and then she quickly lost her life and,
it was brain cancer medulloblastoma I do not let very early age I thought I’m gonna become a brain surgeon that what ignited my passion about,
you know medicine in general and I can tell my story about another surgery,
later on okay yeah we’ll get around to that and so so you didn’t really have any medical types around you in the family or close acquaintances or anything like that it was just this experience with your own sister is that correct.

[4:05] Yeah you have an uncle my mom’s brother he’s a gynecologist and then my sister who was also very young at the age she was about you know 12 when we lost our 14 year old sister she is now a dermatologist as well.

[4:19] Hmm,
well so let’s talk about the development of your career and I want to make sure that I properly juxtapose those events in your life with the political activities that we’re going on,
Italy be at the time because I know that that had a big impact on every decision that you made but tell me about getting into medical school and what those early early years were like,
yeah I mean I worked very hard and you know medical school just to make sure that I,
getting into notice there is re because when I saw Mom and Dad devastated by the loss of my sister,
I was determined to you know make sure that no other family will go through what my family went through,
so I did extremely well in my internship and I actually went through different rotations and found out.
You know the hard way that surgery was not my cup of tea every time I go to the operating room I end up on the floor unconscious,
oh dear that is a little bit of a hindrance yeah they told me oh my you know you cannot be a neurosurgeon of you,
and almost fainting so I passed my agent general surgery rotation it was never able to go into Neurosurgery,
so I became a emergency room physician instead.

[5:38] Well now if I have to ask you if you were disturbed by the sight of blood in the operating room did you fare any better in the emergency room you must have.

[5:51] Yeah I mean I don’t know what was going on with the fainting episodes because when,
the war happened in Libya in 2011 I was seeing dead bodies and I have seen in explosions,
I’ve seen many other grow some things and did not affect me so I don’t know if it’s the survivor mode that we go through when we go through an armed conflict,
Mattia and only it happens in the or you know I have I have heard it said from
medical students and and and even sometimes house staff that just the the atmosphere that exists in an operating room where there is a fearsome professor of surgery about to do an operation
can create a good bit of anxiety
on its own do you think that had anything to do with it just the the sort of operating room atmosphere in the tension that was there and that sort of thing is that more so than the blood and seeing the inside of a human body what do you think,
yeah I believe anxiety is a significant factor here because the same thing happened when,
my wife went into you know cesarean section so the first time I came,
face-to-face or eye to eye with my child coming out of the womb I here immediately was on the floor,
so it’s got more to do with the circumstances than the sight of blood I guess.

[7:15] So go ahead and tell me about what came next you finished your your medical school training in Libya and I am unclear about,
whether you want a head and started your psychiatric training there or did that happen later in this country.
Thank you so and Libya you go into Medical School immediately after high school you don’t go to Community College or anything like that so I started medical Squad a 17,
under finished around is 24 and so it is seven years you go through internship first then year 125 then,
you go into another year of you know rotating through different specialities and order to pick the one that you like the most and,
so I finished that in 1996 and the most need was an emergency room medicine so I did that for about two and a half years.

[8:13] And then one day I came from the hospital and,
found my dad waiting in the front of the door and he said Omar you have to leave the country immediately your name came as somebody who needs to be.
Arrested and thrown in jail because of my humanitarian activities taken care of widows and orphans,
so I found myself a crossing the Mediterranean Sea wow boarding a boat and ending up in the United Kingdom,
living as an asylum Seeker I was never a refugee that the status was never granted to me and then when I came to the United States I joined the University of Tennessee in Memphis and child psychiatry.
And just a little bit more about that story if you will was that,
at about the time of or where temporarily was that event with respect to,
2011 and the downfall of Gaddafi and those types of things that led to the unrest was this at about the same time or before after we were you.
No I mean left Libya 1999 so I left the 12 years in Exile before returning to the Mia so this was one Target off he was still in power that’s correct yeah.
Wow so you continued with your residency training in Tennessee right.

[9:37] And that was in Psychiatry and subsequently you got a fellowship at Harvard.
In the refugee trauma program am I correct about that so this is how it happened like any did my residency between 2005-2009 actually in 2006 as a second year.
Psychiatry resident I received this random email from.

[10:04] You know how about a program in Refugee trauma and you know this is an email that usually goes to your spam folder and you tend to ignore it but something told me.
In my heart I have to open that email and I’m very glad that I did because they were recruiting for somebody from.
Muslim and Arab background to join the program for free and learn how to take care of refugees so that wasn’t 2006 I finished the program 2007 never expecting that I’m going to apply the same,
tools and skills with my home country and the year 2011.

[10:40] That’s very remarkable quite a serendipitously event because so you weren’t seeking this out at all it was just a random.
Email that you clicked on or something came in the mail and there was is that.
About the way it came about yeah I mean I was always interested in trauma Psychiatry so I was you know working with the disaster Psychiatry you know section I was volunteering.

[11:07] What do you think it was about psychiatric trauma that had a hold on you.

[11:13] Yeah I mean it’s not only my sister dying and when I was six year old also when I was 11,
I was walking home from school when somebody was about to kidnap me somebody stopped his car and he pretended to ask for directions.
And I want to you know help him out and found out you know that he was naked and,
he wanted to you know sexually assault me and I was very lucky to run away from that encounter but that ignited my passion about the no sexual trauma and how to make sure children are safe.

[11:49] That’s an interesting reaction I suspect very few people who have that experience decide.

[11:57] You know maybe I can do something to really help this so kudos for you for taking that approach thank you.
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[13:19] Hi I’m Rhonda Crow founder and CEO for empty 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 now 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 us at my MD coaches.com to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Again that’s my MD coaches.com because you’re not in this alone.

[14:21] 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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[15:24] And now let’s get back to today’s interview so when you finished up,
at Harvard you made a really big move to the other side of the United States you want to tell us about that decision and where you went.

[15:41] Yeah the good news I finished my Harvard programmer if you see trauma which is affiliated with Harvard online so it is two weeks and Italy you go face-to-face and meet with your peers from all over the world.
But then you finish the program virtually so I was real lucky actually to finish the program during my pzy to training and Psychiatry and the from the comfort of my home in Memphis,
but then the your your relocation to I may have this wrong but I think it was at first California and then later,
to Oregon can you tell us about that.

[16:21] So when I was about to graduate from the University of Tennessee in Memphis I asked my wife okay what’s the next move should we stay in Tennessee and she wanted so bad to move to the northwest,
so she told me our options are either Seattle or Portland so I applied for the University here in Portland and I got matched with the Oregon Health Sciences University.
He made immediate move from Tennessee to Oregon I gather your wife felt like you couldn’t have had better luck how did how did you feel about.
You relocation to Oregon yeah I mean I really like the Tennessee but there’s something special about the Northwest so we really are in love with,
Portland and the you know and two weeks we actually are moving away from the state of Oregon back to the state of Colorado who take care of my in-laws they’re getting older are you getting sick,
yeah I mean we lived in Colorado between 2000 to 2005,
and we’re going back well I was going to say I bet that you’re going to find Colorado equal equally as engaging
and this position in Oregon was it strictly private practice or was there an academic appointment associated with us to tell us about that.

[17:39] So I started in 2009 as an assistant professor through the Oregon Health and Sciences University and I was working for days at the state hospital and a forensic unit.

[17:51] And then one day I was working in the University teaching and the supervising residents and that went on from 2009 until 2013.

[18:01] But because I was a frequently flying back and forth to Libya and Syria and other refugee camps I was unable to continue my work with the University,
actually took one year off and went to Libyan able to programs there then when I came back to Oregon and 2014,
I joined a private Catholic Hospital Providence Health System.

[18:22] So I want to know a little bit more while I guy I want to know a lot more about those,
trips that you referred to when you went back to Libya this was a door about 2011 the fall of Gaddafi and,
I guess the circumstances of Civil War there are continuing even to this day so,
you made a number of trips as I understand it in please correct me if I’m wrong back to your native country to try to help in any way you could you want to tell us about that,
absolutely yeah I mean,
the first trip was the first week of the Civil War so that the Arab Spring you know that started in Tunisia then Egypt and Libya then Syria,
and eventually Yemen if you remember like it started peacefully and very quickly turned into violent you know exchange and fortunately,
and as you have a very eloquently said unfortunately,
the war continues in Libya and maybe the revolution has failed.

[19:31] The the country is falling into a Civil War and maybe even complete division into east and west and south,
most likely that’s what’s going to happen and maybe unfortunately but you know the first week of the revolution,
Gaddafi shut down any technology so you cannot reach your family through social media even through cell phones,
so I was very very scared about the safety of my parents and my siblings.
One day I was able to connect with my mom and Gaddafi had promised to you know Wipe Out the city of Benghazi my home City.
That means 750,000 people gonna die including world with my family members so my mom said yeah I confirmed the news and just wanted you to know that how proud I am.
I love you and I’m going to see you in heaven.
And this is something that caused my PTSD and I immediately asked forgiveness from my wife but I said I’m taking the first plane.
Be with my parents and so that was in February of 2011 the I have done.
Seven Trips since that time the last one was in 2016.
Well I would really like to know a lot more about those Seven Trips obviously we don’t have time to go through every one of them in detail but if you,
previously had to leave the country under.

[21:00] Threat of death I have to imagine that in this new circumstance with a raging Civil War it must have been at least equal in probably more dangerous for you during that time so can you,
just talked about that give us some details about what that was like.

[21:17] It was very very interesting because I’m both Libya and Egypt or going through the same at the same time so the border between the two countries was extremely open.
And that has advantages for some people like me who you know can enter their home country after all these years at the same time there are disadvantages because anybody can cross the border including unfortunately extremist groups and.
People who might be a mercenaries and so on so it was extremely dangerous I agree with you so the first trip,
it was just my main mission was to make sure my family is okay and do some psychosocial education because Psychiatry and mental health is not something that well celebrated their is what stigma and taboo,
so I you just made sure that people know it’s not only the visible wounds.
But we need to pay attention to it maybe that visible wounds that will lead to a prolonged suffering and this is what we see the aftermath of the Civil War is mainly psychosocial.
Implications do you think you attracted potentially dangerous attention to yourself during all that.

[22:28] It was mixed I mean there was lots of positive response to that message.
The same time of course you know once you come in the radio and the TV and you bring messages of Hope and unity you become a Target so,
you know I really wanted to make sure that you know I don’t lose my life and don’t cause my children my wife,
you know their loved one in the process of taking care of others.
That’s why I always Focus On Healing the Healer and taking care of ourselves as providers of care but.

[23:03] You know the first mission it was mainly basic I mean I was very lucky to contact what organization here by the name of Medical Teams International.
They are here in Portland Oregon and I said what can you help me with them.
They say they can send medical equipment so they sent about half million dollar worth of equipments with me that I talked to hospitals in the front lines of.
The fighting is really a remarkable story so let’s return the conversation too,
this country clearly your experiences in your home country had,
or incredible impact on you and then and how could it not from from what I can read about you it sounds to me that you have brought quite a bit of.
Knowledge with you about psychological trauma back to your practice in this country what you do in the Portland area am I correct about that.
Yeah I mean that’s my area of passion and expertise so people to view me as an expert on trauma including Refugee trauma,
and that comes from both personal experience as you can imagine but also professional interest so tell us about some of the things that you see that.

[24:22] Are responsible for.
Psychological trauma quite a long way from any Battlefield or Warzone but yet it’s going on.
In a major city in the United States where did where does that sort of tries where does that sort of psychological trauma come from.
Thank you Leah I mean I have noticed like the trauma story can cause.

[24:47] Lots of dysfunction not only on individual level but also affecting families and communities and that’s why in 2011 created something called project and Tangled.
Because many people you know individually or.
So their family or Community they are Tangled in a web of trauma that can go from one generation to another if we don’t really talk about our feelings and nurse our wounds and really have a voice to tell our story.
So that was my mission since 2011.
But really what I see is one is the stigma which is very common even here in the United States but many people discriminate against their Mental Health,
if you are bleeding emotionally people will tell you to suck it up and don’t talk about it and I’m going to be a burden if you had a bleeding physically people will just rush you to the emergency room and take care of you.
So the stigma has been something that we need to fight not only a psychiatrist but really.
As a community and as a society and the second thing is you know I have noticed that the impact of trauma on family unit.

[26:00] Many families because of their trauma story they see each other as enemies and.
Their trauma story will break their family unit so that’s why untangled focuses heavily on healing and a family context.
And then using all of the Community Resources in on because there are.
You know trans generational trauma that maybe we can lean on our communities and our you know systems Maybe.
No places of worship our schools we Empower every system around the individual in order to make sure,
the individual heels and eventually the family and the society heels that way do you think the possibility of ethnic discrimination or ethnic fear,
is something that feeds that sort of psychological trauma.

[26:53] Yeah I mean this country absolutely I mean we know racism is a.
Well known but mainly neglected the big elephant in the room and so that’s why I very you know openly talk about my.
Experiences with racism and islamophobia you know people hating me for my skin color or my accent or the way I decided to practice my religion.
And I really don’t respond to hate through hate or violence I’d rather try to understand where the other person’s coming from.

[27:28] Educate and make a connection build a bridge and that’s why you will see that I wrote chapters in the book.

[27:35] Psychiatry and islamophobia and Psychiatry and anti-semitism.
Because these are very personal things that I need to speak up on behalf of people who go through this hateful experiences.
Many times the they don’t really feel safe to speak up and how do you help.
People find the courage to do that I think you’re absolutely correct about that but how do you,
respond to people who present you with a with an unquestionably ethnically,
prejudiced State of Mind how do you find a way to open a Channel of communication the first thing I will see that most likely,
this is not about me this is a person who is showing their fear through anger or throw Hospital there,
yeah and I really this happened even this morning so about two days ago one of my patients.
Was assigned to me a new admission and I went to her room and wanted to introduce myself and she had a big reaction she said I don’t work with people of color I only work with white American Physicians.

[28:48] Wow so it’s lots of compassion and they said absolutely let me talk to my supervisor who happen to be the only white American you know and the group and he very generously and kindly agreed to take the patient.
And then you know today is her discharge date and she actually.
Before she left the hospital she said can I talk to dr. Reed and he want to apologize and just we had a nice conversation that.
It was not about me I just something.
Trigger her fear and that’s happened before and one of my patients that I actually wrote in my newest book The Wounded healer.
So she asked me she said so your name is read are not Rita she said what kind of name is that what are you from Mexico originally.
She said that whole continent should just.
Drown because you people are nothing but Thugs and criminals and so he said wow you have big reaction to people of color.
What happened so I showed compassion and curiosity and she started crying she said her father was killed by someone who happened to be a person of color.

[29:56] And she was showing her trauma story through hostility and when I created the space in my heart for her suffering we ended up having a nice conversation and I continue to be her psychiatrist.
Wow.
That’s a great story I really love hearing that tell us a little bit more about your latest book you have several of them but I’d like to know a little bit more about the,
wounded healer can you tell us give us a little thumbnail sketch about what to what to expect in that one.
Yeah so the two models that I created that I’m very proud of and one is called untangled as I said and I can very very briefly tell you that an angle is made of five different components,
the first one is a psychosocial education and order to fight stigma.
The second one is training of trainers the third one is creating safe spaces so people can have these very difficult but honest conversations.
And the fourth one is creating you know culturally sensitive and humble resources for the community.
And the last one if needed we build Clinical Services Crisis Intervention team so out of untangled which is the big red that I operate.

[31:11] Under.
Is the Wounded healer which is my latest book that was released only on March 15 of 2022 so during the pandemic I noticed the same amount of this function,
is happening with the caregivers so many of my colleagues nurses doctors they either left field of Medicine.
Because they are completely burnt out some of them struggling with substance use but number their moral injury and unfortunately we lost some of them to suicide.

[31:41] If I can no longer bear false witness to their suffering and I wanted to become their voice so I wrote the wounded healer.
Well I can’t I can’t think of a more
stunning or appropriate memoriam than that and thank you so much for making that available to all of us it’s,
it’s quite a credit to your character and Kim in some I privileged to Bear witness to these stories,
well Omar I have really enjoyed our conversation today and I thank you so much for being with us we have arrived at the part of the program that I really like the most
and that’s what I stop talking I’m going to give the stage entirely to you and I will
close my mic for a few minutes while dr. Omar Rita gives us his personal prescriptions for success,
thank you Randy so that’s a wonderful you know question how do you prescribe success and my case as a quote-unquote trauma expert.

[32:42] I would say I would be extremely successful if I lose my job but there is no more trauma in the world my services are no longer needed.
If we can be brave enough to actually speak loudly and speak up and bring people out of there.
You know secret hiding spots and from there silent suffering a culture of toxic stress that’s a bit of a lent in the healthcare industry,
if I have it my way my prescription for Success will be to actually implement the untangled model so nobody continues to be Tangled we were born and Shackled,
and I think everybody deserves to be free from the invisible wounds of trauma.
I like to expand on the psychosocial education so these conversations become normal and the caregivers we humanize their suffering,
yes we take care of others but we don’t forget our own needs and don’t forget our loved ones.
We don’t close the American dream chasing it I don’t only focus materialistically on my loved ones but also remember that they also have.

[33:54] Social and psychological and emotional needs.
I invite people to focus on their biological needs taking care of their body their psychological needs taken care of their mind.
Their social needs taking care of their body their heart and also their spiritual needs taken care of.
So that would be my prescription for success and I hope one day I will live in the world hear from violence,
free from trauma and if I cannot do that at least I take small part in creating a better world for our children.
Thank you honey thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us Omar that is really profound and it’s quite a blessing to have you with us to talk about these things that means so much to you.

[34:46] And I’m really grateful for you taking the time before we go I want to give you an opportunity to let our audience know
where they can find you so if you would like to,
share email addresses or websites or where to find your book please thank you very much and I need for you know creating this platform and giving me,
the space to you know share my story today so all of my information are available online on my websites as dr. Amari.com which is,
Dr om AR re the a,
dot-com and also untangled the model is dissected in detail on the website project and Tangled dot-org.

[35:30] My personal email is dr. Omar a reader,
at gmail.com that’s the our Oma are a are Eda at gmail.com,
well thank you again Omar I appreciate you sharing that with us I would like to also mention that there are quite a few,
YouTube videos featuring you and I would invite our audience to just go to YouTube and,
Omar reader in the search bar,
and you’ll find some really fascinating and deeply moving conversations in there it has been a great pleasure talking with you today and once again thank you so much for being a guest on prescription for success,
thank you Randy the pleasure is mine thank you so much for joining us today.
We’d really appreciate a review from you and a five-star rating helps give our podcast much more visibility and that helps us reach more listeners.
Exclusive content is available on our patreon page including membership only material like personal rapid fire Q & A sessions with our guests.

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[37:10] Music.
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But that there is a big wide Road between saying that racism doesn’t exist anymore and that is a fundamental organizational force of the entire society and that we have to look for it,
and engage your confirmation biases wherever possible.

[1:07] Music.

[1:12] Paging dr. cook paging dr. cook dr. cook you’re wanted in the o.r. dr. cook.

[1:20] Music.

[1:42] Hello everyone and welcome to prescriptions 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.

[1:57] To overcome burnout transition your career develop as a leader or whatever your goal might be.
Visit MD coaches on the web at my MD coaches.com because you’re not in this alone.

[2:11] And don’t forget see you any credit is available when you listen with us just look for cmf I in the show notes to learn how.

[2:20] Well my guest today is a pediatric hospitalist in Spokane Washington.
She has a particular interest in critical race Theory as it applies in medical practice so let’s hear my conversation with dr. Erica Lee.

[2:38] I am really excited today to be speaking with dr. Erica Lee who is out in Spokane Washington and.

[2:48] Erica welcome to the program and I’m really looking forward to our conversation thank you so much for having me because I think your origin story,
rightfully begins with your parents if you don’t mind I would really like to,
start there tell us how your,
how your parents found their way to this country and what it’s been like for you as the child of immigrant parents oh thank you very much for asking that my parents were.
She bore in the 40 East 1940s and.
Shortly after China was taken over by the communist so in 1949 I was the year that my mom was born.
And so when they were teenagers that was the height of the cultural revolution but by the time the code the cultural revolution occurred there had already been the Great Leap Forward which caused.
Total economic collapse and there was a three-year period in the 50s called the it’s labeled a natural three-year famine it’s nothing,
natural it was completely due to policy failure from the maladministration and then of course I has left a lot of.

[4:13] The satisfaction and problems and catastrophes like that tend to feel revolutionary Spirits there are scapegoating and all that kind of sentiment,
and so the cultural revolution happened,
in 1970 1967 and lasted about 10 years that was an exceedingly violent.
Time when young school children and University students were ugly radicalized and brainwashed to the point where they were.
Going to exact violence upon their own parents and grandparents and so at that time people were divided into red categories and black categories and the.
Black types of people included there were like nine categories like spies.
Capitalists industrialists so forth and the red the categories of people consisted of,
revolutionary Martyrs families and of course the martyrs are dead so their families by association to get the rent status there’s a factory workers for farmers,
revolutionary soldiers of the people’s Heroes and when you divide up a society like that based on these.

[5:34] Music.

[5:46] A lot of violence and that is what happened yeah that is what happened so that the black camera people were completely scapegoated.
Yeah my parents were children of.
Christian ministers Christian ministers were consider I guess they were considered intellectuals but also due to the Western Association as Christianity is a western Colonial,
religion according to these identity.

[6:15] Politicians and other red guards which were you know they were not police they were not military they were Sons and Daughters of regular people who have been brainwashed by commissars,
they would forcefully enter people’s homes and ransack them to find.
So-called evidence of counter-revolutionary activity and it’s a complete Witch Hunt right like they will find things like a piece of piano music oh if your into western music we want to,
without this Western culture how did your parents managed to escape well they didn’t really escape this room they stayed throughout.
I have an uncle we’re not no other particle that close to but he swam from mainland China too long.
And actually my parents were not able to immigrate but there was an opportunity for my grandmother to,
immigrated in 1980 that my parents at that time decided to send my four-year-old sister moment and we were able then able to immigrate later and reunite.

[7:42] And so were you I was not really clear from looking at your background information where you born
in China were you born in Shanghai in Shanghai okay and so how old were you when you came when you all came I was 10 years old wow that really brings up my curiosity what was the
culture shock for you like as a 10 year old and a new country it is it will be the fact that I didn’t speak any English I learned the worst and pull on the airplane bathroom doors
so my first,
first English words and then one of the things that caused me a lot of anxiety was that like my English improved
pretty rapidly over the next but it takes like two three years like people say oh you can fit in then three months that’s yes nobody can learn a new language in three months when you’re not born but it takes about 23 years to be proficient.
In the language and by the time I went to middle school.

[8:47] My English was reasonably good and then I was placed in the in the slow class because they just look at my background you’re an English learner and,
I just was inappropriately placed academically in a class that.
Was not a pro like it was too slow for me and I had like a lot of anxiety regarding how I’m not being productive and not learning as much as I could,
so you were in a public you were in a public school and and they had they had a curriculum.
That was making an attempt to help you transition to functional English but it sounds like it was really nice.

[9:39] The best am I hearing it right well I haven’t really spent a year in a the Chinese Education Center in San Francisco.
Which which helps children from Chinese speaking background to to get caught up,
was learning English but then what was high school like for you I mean my goodness high school was tough I went to lull in San Francisco and you might have heard of it in the news currently
there is like a lot of controversy about being a merit-based admission for emissions but basically you have to have the academic,
you have to prove yourself academically in order to get into law.
Any significant problems getting into Stanford where you did your undergraduate work there are very successful people who attempt to apply to Stanford and do not,
and do not get in so.

[10:35] Hey I just I guess I was lucky to have and so at what point along that trajectory were did you begin thinking about medical school the summer after junior year.

[10:48] Because I that until up until that point I didn’t really have a plan yeah I was.
I guess like all idealistic kids interested in Saving the planet,
I was kind of doing stuff with conservation conservation biology I did some internship I did like a Wildland studies for summer I was like a Environmental.
Intern for another summer and then I just realized that I didn’t really have a career plan so,
it’s like I was not pre-med up until that point and had to do all my pre-med stuff senior year who needs a plan when when
your object is to save the planet exactly so
well so in that in that junior year was there something in particular that that you can point to the sort of pointed you toward a career in medicine or it was meeting the right people
so I was like shadowing a genetic counselor I thought okay maybe I’ll,
I guess I can be a genetic counselor I have an undergrad and just just add a couple years and I be,
I will be in health care and stuff tough and then she she introduced me to her boss who was a Urology professor at UCSF.

[12:12] So that was that was kind of yeah what turned me around but then then I became like pre-med in my senior year and so I was not on track to to start medical school.

[12:23] After I immediately after I graduate I had to have a couple of years off too.
To finish all my pre-med yeah I noticed that you graduated with a ba and that would indicate that maybe there was some sort of some more science to be.
Obtained but once you got there once you got the UC Davis,
did it feel right I know a lot of I for one particularly back in the years when I was in medical school the first couple of years thought well gee this is just more College.
Did you feel like you were in the right place when you got there or did did it take a little adjusting I think so I think.
I think it would mean I was really nice but there’s a brand new Medical Campus they Davis at that time had just relocated from.
Davis the town to Sacramento where the medical center was it some point along the way you clearly made the decision that you wanted to.
Be a pediatrician did that come early or did it take a lot of thought it’s another late finding I was,
Pediatrics was my last 30 year rotation and I think it has to do with again like the people who are nice nicer.

[13:38] That and the fact that I.
I realize that there are a lot of intellectual stimulation associated with the field,
I don’t think anybody has ever put it to me that way and the tell me some more about the intellectuals that you found in the Pediatrics Department
Pediatrics is probably in terms of its problem-solving approach is closest to Internal Medicine.
But the prognosis and the patient population tend to do better than Internal Medicine patients.
That’s for sure yeah and then also I’ve realized that parents tend to know their Children’s Medical.

[14:22] Problems better than older patients who would know about themselves.

[14:28] That there is like something about like having children and take on the responsibility and being a parent that allows them to appear to be.
Generally quite invested in what is going on so you got that decision out of the way
but then you make a geographical change you’re going to do your training Los Angeles so tell us what their residency was like oh The Residency was
I really enjoyed I think that that was a much better time than Medical School medical school is kind of developmentally awkward.
As a stage 0 and I didn’t really answer your question about the intellectual stimulation.
Aspect of pediatric and there’s just there’s so much pathology that you have to you have to know it’s very it’s a very broad field of notes that the.
Like neonates are nothing like a 19 year old.

[15:29] And the differential diagnosis for any set of complaints has very very different so there’s there’s a and then you have to know a little bit of
she mons little bit of infectious disease a little bit of you know each organ specific in urology Nephrology Urology or that
well that’s kind of stuff so there is definitely a lot of material.
To master and to integrate to be effective as a pediatrician and then when I went to LA,
it’s a great Department I think the leadership is is superb and my personal academic advisor was the chair of the,
starting when I was an intern so that’s a little bit intimidating but it also shows that generally that just doesn’t happen like in most departments.
As an intern you don’t hang out with chair yeah I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that so.
That’s pretty cool and I’m was there,
a difference in the sorts of pathology that you were seeing for example between Sacramento and l.a. County.
There in Sacramento I was a medical student so I only had I don’t know like a couple of months worth of contact with Pediatrics maybe like a little more during.
During fourth year the fourth year you’re doing like you’re away so it’s not Sacramento but Lala was struck me was.

[16:59] As a pediatrician you don’t people go into Pediatrics not thinking that managing gunshot wounds will be part of their bread and butter there was a lot of gunshot like some sort of violence related.

[17:12] Emission evolving either stabbings or gunshot mostly 10 shop in the in the Adolescent population.

[17:21] Which is not why most people want to become pediatricians but that’s part of it and then the other big population that gets emitted a lot of course or the cancer.
Cancer pop.
Second call it oncology this those become you know the ones that come a lot so you actually had some exposure to those trauma patients at l.a. County I that I would I would.
I would have imagined that they would have surgical staff they are to deal with that but did you did you have a fair amount of exposure to the to the to the trauma
anybody who is under 18 I think at least has to have a pediatric consult.

[18:05] That’s just the hospital so with those types of like yeah those types of surgical cases it’s generally a co-management model,
between a primary hospitalist team and the surgical team
hi I’m Rhonda Crow founder and CEO Forum D coaches here on RX for Success we interview a lot of great medical professionals on how they grew their careers how they overcame challenges.
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[19:25] 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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[20:13] And prescription for Success listeners can get 3 months free when you enter our promo code.
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that’s a really great deal on this stunning publication and now let’s get back to today’s editor,
you know in the early in the early years of my practice
as a surgeon everybody did their own intensive care but as as it got more complicated you really did have to have a love of the profound changes that I’ve seen I think I would probably rank that as
number one so but anyway the supposed to be a conversation about you let’s get back to you at some point I guess you who you were in that role.

[20:59] For three years or so and then made the decision that you wanted to move up to Spokane and become a hospitalist and,
won’t you just tell us what was behind that decision.
Los Angeles and California politics and governance making it less appealing as a place to live and raise a family.
Price of the the skyrocketing housing prices a lot of policy failures that’s
causing a lot of civil Strife well that’s a good reason really good reason to go somewhere to improve your your living conditions and and you made the decision at that point to continued in the role of a hospitalist
rather than get into,
you know the Private Practice thing that you want to tell us how you came to that decision well I think that’s really what I know how to do when I was at in,
well I counted big county yet University of Southern California I was also a hospice you’re moving into a role that you are already.

[22:07] Familiar with so sexy Yes except the it’s not a academic center so it’s more.
So it’s slightly different there are no well we supervise interns but not in Pediatrics like there are other Specialties interns and we don’t have any senior residents so.

[22:30] So it’s a very different I mean so basically we are supposed to do all the work as opposed to just look over what residents,
I want to segue from that now into what really caught our eye when we were looking for someone to interview,
and that is your interest in critical race Theory as it applies in medical practice and I have to say that I have just absolutely been fascinated by what I’ve seen on your,
website and things that you’ve written so tell us,
how this whole project came to be guess I got interested in it because of how it heightens the identity politics that,
I talked about earlier during the Chinese Cultural Revolution some of our,
most esteemed medical societies are starting to embrace it the American Medical Association straight up just says that we want to use tools from critical race theory in order to achieve equity.
And Equity is not defined as fairness it is defined the way that Ibrahim X Kennedy has described to use,
discrimination now against previously groups like racial groups that were.

[23:50] Discriminating against other groups in the past.
And that just Harkens back to what was happening during the Chinese Cultural Revolution where groups of people were,
given the category black category and systematically scapegoated.
Saying that you previously had privileged so you were seeing things that cause you to remember.
Some of the unpleasantness that you.

[24:23] Experienced in the country of your birth well I didn’t personally experience but it was it’s definitely a multi-generational.
Trauma that got passed down so it’s not something you experience but you were aware of it I think would have been a better would have been a better way for me to pose the question but.

[24:45] But something I’m interested to know from you so you you are someone who has seen this to occur to the extreme do you think that.
Human beings or sociologically wired to separate it or Cypress separate ourselves into groups,
I don’t think children do that unless someone instructs them to do it what do you think yeah that I mean that leads to a lot of Entry Intergroup violence when arbitrary when people suffer themselves based on arbitrary.
Characteristics which is why I very much Embrace like smelt small-l liberalism,
that,
seize the universal like there are certain things that are universally true among all human beings and according to critical race Theory which has been which has a huge post-modern,
influence that posits that there is no such thing as an individual or something that’s Universal.
All politics is based on group identities,
and you clearly have done some serious study on this subject and I want to enthusiastically recommend to our audience that they check out your website which is highly instructive and.

[26:08] Maybe you can just give us a little description of what can be found at the website and while you’re doing it tell people how to find it because I think it’s a really brilliant piece of work.
So it’s critical Med Theory.com critical is the word and the med Meed Theory.com,
and I go through just some vignettes some of them are real almost all of them all of them are real vignettes and I.
Don’t like to tell people what to think but I go through a comparison between the values that are espoused by a critical race Theory.
Again it is our medical societies are pushing this for example according to the association of American medical colleges which all medical schools belong to they say that.
Faculty have to role model how knowledge of intersectionality informs clinical decision-making.
Or that faculty Medical Faculty should teach how systems of power privilege and oppression inform policies and practices and how to engage with systems to disrupt oppressive
practices I mean this is like straight out of some maoist or.

[27:23] So like communist book but.
I just explained how the this set of values compare and contrast with,
the medical ethics that we learned about in medical school and you decide I have some practice like discussion questions at the end that allow the reader to decide.

[27:51] Whether you want to embrace this me this value system versus that but what I do establish is that.
Medical ethics as we know it and critical race Theory or not compatible.

[28:06] What I think is most brilliant about the website in fact is exactly what you just.

[28:12] What you just were talking about in that is there are far more questions in there than they are answers and clearly that was,
the effect that you intended to bring about is that am I reading it correctly.
Yes because nobody likes to be told what to think and I do not do that on I don’t tell you what to think on this website I explore just five domains.

[28:41] Well they’re usually in pairs so the first domain is truth.
Truth and knowledge so I can his power and privilege third individual ality and agency forth Justice equity and fifth is humanism and civil rights so those are the five domains that I explore and compare and contrast
the values of critical race Theory versus,
humanism and medical ethics well you’ve done a brilliant job of addressing the subject.
On the website I’m very impressed with it but I’m interested I’m interested to know how this.

[29:21] Affects your own practice in your own way of life how how do you start a conversation on this subject,
without starting a fight well I think most people don’t know a whole lot about this subject to spite the fact that it is a national conversation,
but there is one that makes it scary from the outset,
I think most people are actually pretty curious and that I don’t try to tell them what to think I just tell them,
that these are what is critical race there how to define it well it is the belief system predicated on the idea that white supremacy is the fundamental organizing has four fundamental organizational force of society.
Do you think that’s true right like.

[30:07] We can explore whether any of its claims is true and whether there is evidence for what it claims,
and I listen to what they have to say and if they have like personal experiences of racism validate that.

[30:24] I’m not like those of us who are fighting against critical race Theory and its encroachment into Medical Practice none of us would,
ever make the claim that we are completely over racism and doesn’t exist anymore.
But that there is a big wide Road between saying that racism doesn’t exist anymore and that is a fundamental organizational force of the entire society and that we have to look for it,
and engage your confirmation biases wherever possible.
Well it’s a really incredible piece of work that you have out there and I and I truly do.
Encourage people to take a look at it do you.
On a day-to-day basis try to encourage to do you try to engage people in conversation on this subject or.

[31:15] You just sent people to the website not what I want for sensitive comes up I think that it’s really important for us to not be afraid,
to talk about it because intimidation is a is one of the tactics,
that’s used to silence people when we try to push back especially coming from my background I have parents that survived the cultural revolution.
I think that my perspective is very.

[31:46] Relevant indeed it is and I have really enjoyed this conversation up to this point but we have reached the point dr. Eric Ali where I’m going to close my mic and get out of the way,
and audience dr. Eric Ali is going to offer us her personal purse,
prescriptions for Success one of the ideas I would like to explore and and promote is that.
Medical trainees shouldn’t always assume that you have to sub-specialized during training I was pushed,
pretty hard by almost all of my mentors who I all love and respect to do a fellowship and become a subspecialist
and the reason they do that well partly because it’s that’s what they are and academic Medical Center and also because I’m perceived
to be to enjoy intellectual stimulation and explore subjects deeply.
But right now I finished a very influential book to me called the range are Ang range by David Epstein,
and she makes a great argument about how generalists are.
Some of some of the most important people that can change a field for the better and to innovate.

[33:12] So I would say that one of my advice to people who are thinking about going into medicine or or are at different.
Stages of training.
To not always assume they’re so specializing is the way to go fellowships are always out there even if you have been practicing for some time.

[33:35] You can still go back to fellowship.
But once your sub-specialized one of the things that limits you would be like where you could live because Medical Center would probably only need,
like a handful of nephrologists a handful of cardiologist but it would have a great need for a bigger need for for General
pediatricians or general surgeons or what have you I mean I also very much appreciate,
the advice or the consult I get from subspecialist so if you have a personality and a passion go for it for two sub-specialized but,
not that’s not for everybody and the sub specialization in medicine
according to dr. Jerome groopman book how doctors think the the special specialization Trend tends to give medicine a false sense of.
Certainty whereas a lot of diagnosis require you to,
to be interdisciplinary and think across different organ systems different disease categories.
In order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Other things that young people should keep in mind where you match probably doesn’t matter that much.

[34:59] Just be happy that you have matched.
And don’t don’t feel bad about yourself if you didn’t get your top choice or top two or three.
Where you where you match is where you’re meant to be and and you should celebrate that.
Also dating and trying to find a partner is can be pretty hard in medical school or residency it’s very common to break up when people can’t deal with long distance relationships,
that certainly gave me a lot of anxiety when I was in medical school and training especially as a woman,
because women generally tried to find men whore.

[35:42] Equal or higher status of but not only did I get married.
Grill a little bit late compared to the general population I’ve got married when I was 34 and still have time have time in time to have two kids most of my other,
girlfriends who were going through training cool complain about.
Not being able to find a man at the time most of them got married as well so you do have to put work into meeting people.
You can’t just like sit at home and wait for the FedEx guy or the mailman to you have to get out there and it is work but.
It also for most people does work itself out and having kids as great I do encourage you to have kids.
And not necessarily wait until you’re done with training like there is never a great.
Perfect time to have kids it’s a lot of work but children tend to distract you from all the other things that that may be happening at work or in the world,
and their Bright Smiles and Giggles they they’re really quite medicine for the soul.

[37:02] And finally it’s normal to have doubts that you pick the right profession,
being a doctor has many benefits I don’t regret going into medicine,
I know that you may hear a lot of stories about there about how everybody is burning out everybody is encountering moral injury the hyper corporate or corporatization all the.

[37:29] All the bureaucracies that is encroaching upon medicine and all of these policies getting pushed by our Medical Society especially injecting critical race Theory into medicine all those things are negatives but.
It doesn’t mean that having that relationship and taking care of patients is no longer a worthwhile Endeavor I do encourage people to consider medicine as a,
career and that I’m I’m still happy to have,
become a doctor and there are many aspects of my job that I enjoy both the interaction with the patients and the intellectual stimulation involving trying to find,
diagnosis for symptoms are there a little vague and difficult and having colleagues to to bounce ideas off of,
so

[38:28] It’s normal to doubt yourself but medicine is a good field and that’s my prescription for success.
Well dr. Erica Lee that is some really good advice and I have to tell you that I’m really enthusiastic about you’re putting up there in the,
forward position to don’t be afraid to be a generalist because it is very satisfying I did my training.
At a time when not everybody became a super specialist and I remained a general surgeon throughout my practice and I really really enjoy it for exactly the reasons that you outlined and I thank you so much for bringing that up,
I also thank you
I also thank you for just being here to share your story with us it’s been quite fascinating before we go I want to give you an opportunity to tell our audience.

[39:24] Where you can be found where to find your website and anything else you like.
Share whether it be email addresses or whatever so what would you like us to know so critical Med fairy.com is my website against that see RIT.
I see Alm Ed the0 Ry.com.
And my email is the same thing critical method very critical Med Theory at gmail.com I’m on Twitter using the same handle.
As well and I also just started a YouTube channel with the same branding.
Well dr. Eric Ali once again thank you so much for being here it’s been very informative in a lot of fun and I appreciate you taking the time thank you so much appreciate inviting me on the show.

[40:13] Thank you so much for joining us today we’d really appreciate a review from you and a five-star rating helps give our podcast much more visibility,
and that helps us reach more listeners.
Exclusive content is available on our patreon page including membership only material like personal rapid fire Q & A sessions with our guests.

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Learn how to get CME credit from cmf I just by listening.

[40:49] Special thanks to Ryan Jones who created and performs our theme music and remember be sure to fill your prescription for success with my next episode.

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