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Comedy saved my life.


When I was burning out, I would crave a laugh, a distraction, a way to shrug off the grief . For years I sniffed out comedic greats, listened to laugh lines, and even read How-to-Standup. I had a secret that if I got good, I might leave Radiology altogether but THAT hasn't happened yet. Comedy was a way to survive . When I thought I had a funny bit, I would tape myself and it sat on tape, there. As her bad luck would have it my transcriptionist, Ms. Frances White was forced to retire, at the then young age of 81. Fearing being idle she jumped at the mention to be my transcriber. So that's how it happened, she got busy and it gave me a life. By snail mail, she would send me love letters, little pearls and I would open them up and laugh all over again. She heard me laugh ,cry, and curse, as I shared my true self, raw and real. She kept watch over me and through comedy and her love, I learned the power of sharing, laughter and the importance of connection.

In researching the intersection of physicians and comedy for my book, "The Wounded Healer", I'm so lucky to have met the brilliant Pranathi Kondapaneni, MD, MPH, D-ABPN. who by age twenty-four had completed four degrees in seven years, a BA in economics and biology, master’s in public health, and a medical degree. Sleep Physician genius, author, caregiver, confidante, safe space, She fulfills on what Malcolm Gladwell defines as a real-life Connector. Dr. Kondapaneni is no stranger to burnout, experiencing a sense of loss as she reflects “I was very passionate before, I was into a lot of interests, but I lost that along the way, " even going on to say "everything outside of medicine no longer existed, " and how “Something inside of me broke", as we docs are “set to achieve a standard which is unachievable".

From Day one of my journey to publish, she sent emails, scheduled zoom calls, and rolled up her sleeves to support our work. Her listening skills are her Superpower - Within weeks we were introduced to Brene Browns' Daring Greatly Facilitator Michael Lee, MD MPH, mover and shaker Emma Ghalili. People unafraid to share their lessons learned like Alisha Wielfaert and special healers who share core contributions Agustin (Gus) Castellanos, M.D.) were part of her network. She's an experienced comedienne, a real live Standup artist and even wrote a book about it called #PrescriptionComedy. (Get your copy). She promotes Alan Alda’s work for Communicating Science “where he's teaching improv to doctors in special bootcamps with a goal to teach them how to have conversations with their patients.”

As I piece together all the levels of how we got to this crisis, I'm clear there has never been a better time to talk about it. I am grateful to the guidance of Eric Koester and my compassionate partner Jennifer Tam, MD .Ms. White is well, 88, this pic from last year, and a COVID survivor. Go get your Lenny Bruce on.


Jennifer Tam, MD Tam


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