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Breaking Point: Why We Become Activists

— Three healthcare providers describe what pushed them to speak out

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Amy Ho: Hey everyone and welcome back to Anamnesis by MedPage.

I'm Amy Ho -- practicing ER doctor, passionate humanist, and your podcast host.

For those of us who haven't joined us before, welcome.

You've stumbled across our humble little podcast here -- Anamnesis -- which is the medical podcast that isn't actually about medicine.

It's the podcast about the practice of medicine, the art of medicine, the experience of medicine -- not the science of it. Not the nitty-gritty drugs, not the procedures, the parts of science that were on pathophys [pathophysiology] exams.

Here, we talk about medicine and all the things about it that bring us back. That keep it being as magical as it is to us, day in and day out.

Now, I don't want to sugarcoat things too much because things have been a bit tough in medicine recently. Burnout, staffing shortages, reimbursement cuts, corporate takeovers, that pandemic thing -- there's a lot to not like, unfortunately. But it doesn't mean that what we do isn't special and worthy, and it doesn't mean that medicine isn't -- in my opinion -- still the best field in the world.

But it does mean we need to think beyond just the bedside sometimes. What are the things that trigger us? What are the things that take away from what we can do and what we want to do at the bedside? What are ways that we can mitigate it, that we can improve it?

It's a bit of a different frame of reference because we're so trained to think of the one-on-one clinician-patient relationship, but this takes us to a framework of the one-to-many -- taking our bedside relationship and all of its ilks and all of its rewards, and taking that experience to help many. In other words: advocacy.

And in my mind, when times are tough, that's when it's the most important to advocate.

This is what this episode of Anamnesis is about -- our theme this episode is: "Breaking Point: Why We Become Activists."

And in this episode, we'll cover three stories from clinicians of what it was that brought them to the activist frame of mind. To look beyond just the patient in front of them and to look at bettering conditions for all patients, other clinicians, and the system as a whole.

Chapter 1: Telling My Story at the National Nurses March (3:44) -- She shared her story with thousands -- and since millions -- of people. Story by Tammi Nander, RN.

Chapter 2: Nurse Sees Other Side of Unsafe Staffing (19:46) -- She experienced unsafe staffing, firsthand, in the delivery room. Story by Katie Best, RN.

Chapter 3: From New Pandemic Resident to Union Advocate (32:09) -- A resident finds community amidst COVID chaos. Story by Chris Thipphavong, MD.

Episode produced by Maja Clasen, Editorial Intern

Hosted by

Sound engineering by Greg Laub

Theme music by