ZDoggMD at TEDMED | Are Zombie Doctors Taking Over America?

It got through the censors, folks. Sure, over 1.5 hours of cursing and intentional wardrobe malfunctions were edited out, but what remains is my April 2013 TEDMED talk, “Are Zombie Doctors Taking Over America?”

Warning: contains severe physician burnout, moderate amounts of hope, and ROBOTS. Spread it around, because the revolution might well be televised.

And don’t forget to check yourself before you wreck yourself! Another TEDMED joint by Dr. Zubin Damania (AKA me, ZDoggMD):

 

  • Congratulations ZDoggMD! Profoundly funny – yet with powerful messages sneaked in for surprise effect. I laughed so hard, I was crying. You have found your niche, and I thank you for filling it.

    • It’s always great when you can scratch your niche. Thanks for the support, means a lot!

  • Jen

    As a clinical social worker that has worked within all parts of the US healthcare system (including managed care), I can say that I have felt similar burnout. I suffer from cognitive dissonance because even though I am a professional in the field I also am an individual that lives with chronic pain. I have also been on the brunt end in the office with physician zombies. I appreciate your perspective and humorous spin on this issue within our broken healthcare system. I am excited to see what the clinic in LV can do for the community and how the fee for service concept goes! Keep up the awesome and inspiring work yo!

    • Thanks Jen, these issues affect healthcare providers in all spaces, and as you’ve had the misfortune to experience, the zombitude poisons the patient experience. Thanks for the support and keep fighting the fight yo!

      • Yeah they do, and yeah it does. Take all that frustration about the system that you talk about, and then add another set of layers (docs who don’t share your enthusiasm and LIKE the current power structure, nurses who won’t cede any ground to specialists, etc.). That’s where those of us at the bottom of the medical food chain live. We do what we can to change the mindset and improve the environment, but it’s an order of magnitude harder from this end. I hope that your message gets through to more of the medical community!

        • WORD. We’re trying to build a non-hierarchical team with a collaborative culture, and I feel ya playboy!

  • It’s so true, even in Chile. Our healthcare system is horrendous and cruel. I’ve tried to teach to my students (medicine students)in our little free clinic in Temuco, Chile, to be compassionate and respectful, but they just don’t care about primary care. Is not as sexy as the last molecule in yesterday’s paper. And you end up so tired… of the patients, students and even yourself. But as you said, we are thousands and we are going to make a change. There is no other way!!!
    So keep on spreading the word!!

    • Glad to hear our problems are universal. On second thought: sorry to hear that! Much love to the Southern Hemisphere Andrea…

  • Absolutely phenomenal and moving. Love ya dogg

  • Yes. Sign me up! What’s the next step? Thanks for taking this leap!!
    In order to change the excrement that pours forth from our “System” we must transform the System, ie government, elections, lobbying, business, citizens, training and reimbursement. Here’s a TED talk that addresses this aspect. http://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_we_the_people_and_the_republic_we_must_reclaim.html

  • Powerful talk..Zdogg…..is Harry there, too ? Only one suggestion, most readers here when you say Los Vegas, will ask…..can you comp me? and ‘where are the tables. So in the interest of clarity are there wheels and slots in the lobby?

  • Kyna Zacharias MD

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Zdogg. I am a fresh resident, just starting my second year out from medical school in a surgical program. So much of what you say I can already relate to – I feel like it is a race against the clock each day to meet expectations, and many days I wish I had had more time to actually CARE for my patients. I can’t wait to see how your clinic develops. I hope it is truly successful and revolutionary, so that by the time I have finished my residency I will have a spot to go that encourages me to be a better person and a better doctor, and not just a better financial asset to whatever hospital system I may work for.

    • Wow, well said Kyna. Keep in touch and stay tuned and best of luck in your training; if you keep your awareness up you’ll find your way!

  • J’lyn DeWitt

    I’m not in the medical field, but I love reading about it, and keeping up with all the new thinking about patient engagement, EHR, telemedicine, etc. My own doctor is fabulous although I’m moving across the country and it will be hard to stay as his patient, unless insurance will hurry up and GROW UP! Insurance needs to get on board and figure out how to cover for patients like me who want their out of state doctors to treat them via telemedicine, with the yearly or every other year physical. He’s in a big group and they will also have to develop a way to bill, but I bet within five years all of this will be considered ordinary. I also see a very good therapist here for grief counseling, who has helped me for 3 years over my son’s death and Aetna won’t cover phone or skype conferences. I guess they think it’s cheaper for me to start all over with a new Dr. Again, powers that be are missing the boat.
    Your presentations and videos are so humorous and entertaining, and I do want to share with you that as a teacher, I told my kids the same thing: “Don’t be a teacher.” I, and other teachers say that, because teachers are being forced to follow admin, state, and federal policies that often make no sense and frequently botch things up. Additonally, they tie our hands, stifle creativity, and slam programs down our throats that ex teachers who went over to the dark side designed in their fervor to speak Administrationese, that language that they all speak up there. Even though I enjoyed my high schoolers until I retired, I was still getting very tired of being dragged down by all of the above, and also our favorites…. the parents. I always had it fairly good, and worked with good principals (most of the time) and some great kids. But there is always that chance of getting stuck in a horrible situation, like many of my colleagues, and that is when you really see the teachers dropping out like flies. One can only be browbeaten for so long before it takes its toll! I liken your patient who was mad for not getting his/her Vicodin to my kids who would get mad when they failed. I would point out all their zeroes, and their response would be “But you didn’t TELL me I was failing!” Frankly, I always looked forward to hearing them say that, which I knew they would, so that I could give them my little routine about how it really is beneficial to remember if you have racked up zeroes, and to pay some sort of attention to your test grades and returned papers. The guy in front of you got 11 papers back and you got only 3? Hmmmm…. now if you can’t figure out that you’re failing, you need to pull those headphones out (the ones that you sneakily have tucked deep inside your sweatshirt and hidden underneath your hair) and quit the zombie act. Parents calling to complain that said kid CAN’T make a D or an F because it will mess up his GPA, so you MUST come up with extra credit? No, sorry, doesn’t work that way, I sort of have to think about the other 29 students who don’t get any special treatment. Okay, that’s fine, email and call my principal and the school board and the superintendent to tell them what a mean, demanding, and clearly unqualified teacher I am. Maybe I’ll get lucky and get fired. Yes, there are many things in the medical profession that remind me of things we put up with in our field. However, yours does deal with serious, life or death matters, and ours….oh, but wait, I forgot. A bad grade in Spanish IS life or death. Somebody could die from an F in Spanish I.

  • Fantastic TEDMED! My colleague Corey Ferrugia of MyTown Music (www.mytownmusic.com) and I are doing something very similar, but in the world of education and Artistic approaches to create learning experiences which are deeply meaningful and inspiring. I started the FAME Foundation in 2000. We’re currently focused in Arizona and Southern California (Long Beach). I’d like to visit your Vegas digs.
    Thanks for all you’re doing.
    Enrique

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  • ZombiHospitistMD

    More power to you. I can vouch for everything you say about the zombifying reality of modern medicine. Hopefully you can help bring life back to the providers who have been sucked in.

    • Word, it’ll take all of us to fix this mess!

  • I’ve been too busy to check in recently – eating brains and shuffling around through my primary care existence, and finding true inspiration in family life and the occasional 30 minute visit… but after watching this TED talk all I can say is congratulations and godspeed! Your sincerity and charisma carry much gravitas, and perhaps the adult film industry should rethink its qualification standards.
    Seriously, many congratulations, and hope you are a big part of the revolution. Already are it seems.

    • Hey, thanks for the encouragement. It is going to take all of us stepping up and saying enough is enough before things have any chance of changing. And that’s just talking about the adult film industry, forget about medicine!

  • Hey Z,

    From burnout through rap star to thought leader .. congratulations. Your presentation here was inspiring … tell the truth and wrap it in stories that connect with anyone in the front lines of healthcare. Like you I burned out of primary care in 1999.

    Now all of my patients are doctors and I am an expert in helping our brothers and sisters wake up in their 40’s and 50’s to the realization that they do have the power to create their life and practice … even if they have been “on rails” since day one of medical school.

    How can I support you and your revolution … how can we collaborate to spread the word of “it just does not have to be this way”? My burnout prevention newsletter goes to 1800 docs in 63 countries after growing thehappymd.com for just over a year. It is so time to start a movement.

    Keep up the great work. I would love to connect and share notes at some point.

    Dike
    Dike Drummond MD
    TheHappyMD (dot) com

  • Z,

    Here’s a post I just put up about you and your journey of surrender. Who plays the sound track on the wild ride that is your life I wonder?

    http://www.thehappymd.com/blog/bid/325935/Physician-Burnout-To-MD-Rapper-To-Thought-Leader-ZDoggMD-on-Ted-Med

    Dike
    Dike Drummond MD
    TheHappyMD (dot) com

  • Pingback: Meet ZMommMD!()

  • MadicalSchool

    applause, applause! i’ll be sure to embed your videos on my site. Thanks!

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