Before they were doctors, they were ...
Masters of illusion, college mascots and dairy farmers—those are a few of the pursuits some of today’s most influential doctors dabbled in before they became leaders in medicine.
“We thought it was important to see how diverse and interesting the journey to hospital medicine could be,” said Dr. Larry Wellikson, president of the Society of Hospital Medicine. Since June, the group’s podcast “Before the White Coat” has delved into the past lives of more than a dozen healthcare leaders, with Wellikson as host.
Everyone has to start somewhere. For Dr. John Nelson, it was as a “very active member” of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. “That was my first exposure to a professional society,” Nelson joked. He’s now recognized as one of the founding architects of the hospitalist movement.
Medicine wasn’t always these leaders’ first passion. “I thought I was going to dedicate the rest of my life to astronomy,” said Dr. Nasim Afsarmanesh. The associate chief medical officer and executive director of quality and safety at UCLA Health still keeps the stacks of Astronomy magazine that she treated “like gold” as a middleschool student.
A new podcast episode is posted every two weeks. Upcoming episodes will include Dr. Patrick Cawley, CEO of the Medical University of South Carolina, and Dr. Gregory Maynard, director of the University of California at San Diego’s Center for Innovation and Improvement Science.
Recorded podcasts to date have featured CMS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Conway, who considered the Peace Corps and Teach For America after college; UCSF Medical Center’s Dr. Robert Wachter, who many already know was the Quaker mascot at the University of Pennsylvania; and Tulane University’s Dr. Jeffrey Wiese, who was raised on a dairy farm and described rising early to tend to the cattle as an “incredibly painful experience.”
Above, former magician Dr. John Nelson; left, Dr. Robert Wachter as the Penn mascot.