Danielle Ofri gives highly engaging lectures to both medical and non-medical audiences on a wide range of topics. There are no slides, no handouts, no Powerpoint–just lively discourse and compelling human stories.
Oliver Sacks Documentary (with Kate Edgar and Bill Hayes)
A Culture of Safety: Patient safety is a critical issue in medicine today. There is, rightly, a strong emphasis on systems approaches to improving medical care and decreasing error. However, medicine is fundamentally a human endeavor. Without attention to the human aspects of the medical enterprise—emotions, cognitive abilities, biases, communication—crucial aspects of patient safety will remain beyond our grasp.
The Changing Landscape of Medicine: Burnout among healthcare professionals appears to be at epidemic proportions these days with, concomitant gushing prescriptions for wellness and resilience. But in reality, most are not burned out, in the traditional sense of the word: most of us love taking care of patients and want nothing more than to be able to do just that. This presentation examines the buffeting forces upon the medical profession and the healthcare industry, and how healthcare professionals survive—and even possibly thrive.
The Power of Words: Despite modern medicine’s infatuation with high-tech gadgetry, the single most powerful diagnostic tool in the medical armamentarium is the the conversation with the patient. However, what patients say and what clinicians hear are often two vastly different things. When you add in stereotypes, unconscious bias, multitasking, and fear of lawsuits, the risk of misdiagnosis and medical errors multiplies. This presentation examines how refocusing the conversation between patients and clinicians can lead to better health outcomes.
The Power of Narrative: Caring for patients is never easy. In addition to being swamped by medical intricacies, medical professionals often find that they are submerged in their patients’ stories. This can be exhilarating or painful or both. But like patients, healthcare workers need stories. Why, after all, do so many of our medical journals publish stories in their otherwise statistically significant pages? To be skilled clinicians, we must be able to interpret our patients’ metaphors. If we insist on thinking concretely, we’ll miss out on the many layers of meaning…and maybe miss the diagnosis too.
Emotions, Clinicians, and Patients: Despite our commitment to the scientific method, medical professionals are not nearly as rational and evidence-based as we tell ourselves that we are. Emotions permeate our clinical decision-making, whether we choose to acknowledge this or not. The presentation offers an unflinching look at how emotions affect clinicians and the medical care they are able to give their patients.
Technology in Medicine: Technology is transforming medicine at a breathless pace. From computerized treatment algorithms to artificial intelligence, every aspect of medicine has been refashioned by the digital revolution. This presentation digs into the technologies of medicine—some ancient, some disarmingly simple, some revolutionary, and some impressively overwrought—to examine the impact of this ongoing metamorphosis, and what it means for the medical professionals and patients who must navigate it.
Bringing Back the Humanity to Medicine: Despite enormous advances in healthcare, patients and clinicians alike are dissatisfied with their experience. So much of medicine has been boiled down to rote algorithms and assembly-line care. Seeking inspiration from the gripping narratives of medicine to the unlikely poetry of the ICU, this presentation probes the most fundamental aspect of medical care—how clinicians and patients connect.
Multiculturalism and Diversity: Like all areas in our culture, medicine faces many challenges in our multicultural society. Stereotypes and unconscious bias can subtly undermine medicine’s commitment to patient care. With a candid assessment of how biases infiltrate medicine, this presentation focuses on creative ways to bridge cultural gaps.
Medicine Today and Tomorrow: Medicine is increasingly portrayed as a field that no one in their right mind would consider: the debt burden for medical students is gargantuan, regulations strangulate the practice of good medicine, litigious patients lurk in every corner, doctors are disillusioned in droves. Is this all really true? This presentation is geared toward an undergraduate and general audience, examining the current state of medicine, focusing on what it really means to be a doctor today, and why some of us wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Medical Professionalism: Professionalism is a hot-button issue in the medical world. As the field comes under assault from all corners, medical professionals can feel besieged and demoralized. Seeking inspiration from Chekhov, Sports Illustrated, and the legions of patients in a clinician’s life, this presentation strives to help healthcare workers—especially those in training—avoid becoming ungrounded and losing their sense of self. An unusual look at medical professionalism.
Medical Writers: An Epidemic? More than any other field, medicine seems to inspire writing. Doctors, nurses, and medical professionals of all stripes have turned to writing, giving rise to a new set of ethical dilemmas. This presentation illuminates the inherent connections between story-telling and medicine in a way that is accessible to a wide-ranging audience.
Malpractice and Medical Error: Lawyers tend to meet up with doctors only in the charged setting of medical malpractice, when doctors are radically changed from their usual selves. Geared toward risk managers, this presentation examines how doctors commit errors, hide errors, and alter their medical practice because of errors. It digs deep into the harrowing experiences of physicians who’ve experienced medical error and malpractice suits, illuminating the powerful emotional challenges to all who are involved.