I live for "ahaa" moments.
Kind like when you buy new pressure washers. Similar effect.
Last spring, our University had the pleasure of hearing a speech by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a well-known forensic pathologist made famous by the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith. If you haven't already seen the movie, I can highly recommend it! Will Smith does an incredible job portraying Omalu and his remarkable work on discovering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in professional athletes.
Each spring our Medical School brings a renowned physician to give the students and staff a 'Motivational Speech'. This tradition, which started with Patch Adams (!), is a good one, as it provides young, soon-to-be doctors a new perspective on medicine.
Omalu's speech was nothing short of inspiring.
While I wasn't immediately able to apply everything he said to my everyday life as I'm not a working physician, I made sure to take notes on what I wanted to think about in more depth later on.
The notes I took during Omalu's speech have been on my phone during the summer, and occasionally I would reference them and immediately they made more sense in a working environment.
In the movie Concussion, Omalu clearly had a road block in his creative thinking, when he "didn't know what he was looking for" and his boss prohibited fixing a brain due to financial restrictions. Omalu wanted to identify what caused the patient to develop severe mental disturbances and behavior. In an ideal world, every doctor would have zero economical boundaries. I was left to wonder, what are the qualities of a work environment, to allow a doctor to work at their full potential?
At work this summer there was one afternoon, where we had to clear out nearly half of the ward as we had a wave of patients coming in from another city. The "oh f**k" light was shining bright atop everyone's forehead that day, but instead of the department head coming in and yelling at us to work faster and harder, he came in to ask how are we doing. He smiled, gave concrete direction, support, and left. That is when I noticed how powerful it is to increase effectivity with kindness. That kind of leadership is what drives an ideal work environment. Talk about #squadgoals.
To all the future chief physicians out there, these are interesting questions. Aside from being well educated, creative and open minded, what other factors contribute to a physician to be able to work at their fullest potential?
There were so many questions I wanted to ask Omalu at the end of his speech.
Another note I made during the speech from Omalu: "Use your knowledge to help the people around you to unite humanity."
I remember thinking about this one for a while during his speech that I zoned out for a while just thinking about it until I realized I should just write it down and think about it later. I wish we could make T-shirts with this quote to hand out at graduation. I love it, because I truly feel this is what makes doctors and nurses powerful. In addition, Omalu spoke about conformational norms restricting our creativity in knowledge, and how we can eliminate all of these restrictions by supporting one another. This became clear as daylight to me when we had our ultimate stressful afternoon at the hospital. We could have each gone our own way and fended for ourselves, but what ultimately upped our efficiency was supporting one another. While I was certainly the weakest chain in the link as the sole amateur on the team that day, my colleague sang praises at the end of the day, how I was "his right hand" and took a major load off.
Supporting each other to not only help increase efficiency but also to not restrict yourselves creatively is the ultimate way to find success.
When you doubt yourself, who you are, you become like salt that has no taste.
What I most loved about Dr.Omalu was his wit. His speech was not only brilliant but funny as heck. He has an amiable intonation, and I remember the pitch of his voice would sometimes go so high it sounded like a screech! 😀 When he said the quote above, I remember the intonation of the words "has no taste!" increasing exponentially that the word 'taste' made everyone's eyebrows pop up 😀
Anyway, back to context.... In addition to his lovable presentation style, this quote was also something that stuck to me because it seems like something that has been said a million times, but never Omalu-style. "Don't doubt yourself", "be who you are" are heard all the time. But what do those mean? Again, it's easier said than done, so I was happy to hear a metaphor to explain what he meant.
Lastly, my favorite part of the evening was the audience questions. At the end of the speech, Omalu gave the audience the chance to ask questions. I love audience-speaker interaction because I frequently find the questions relatable. This time, I gathered the courage to stand up in front of the several hundred person audience and ask about self confidence.
In reference to the movie, when Omalu wanted to study the brain but his boss forbid the study, Omalu went ahead and did it anyway. He was that confident. I asked Dr. Omalu, when your boss tells you "no" , how do you gain the confidence to "believe in yourself" to continue? Since I feel 'believe in yourself' is always easier said than done.
I feel like this is something everyone faces, both in and outside of the medical community. In any profession when you hit a creative roadblock when your superior tells you "no," how do you move forward from that?
Omalu's response? Get to know your coworkers personally. Each boss knows their workers professionally, but how many do you know personally? Their first name? Family members? He stressed the importance of not only saying 'Good Morning' but "Good morning, Jim!"
Now wait a minute. No chance am I going to go up to my senior physician on Monday and ask "What up, Nancy!? How's your hubby doin'? Fist pump!" So this clearly doesn't apply to students and new employees. Does it? Actually it does. While it is important to see the line between personal and professional lives, there is never harm in putting yourself out there, being kind, and talkative. Omalu suggested warming up to your superiors personally, in a way for them to get to know you professionally.
Additionally, Omalu said "Don't be afraid to be afraid. Embrace your fears and enhance your faith." I love this quote as well. No matter how strongly we believe in ourselves, fear and uncertainty is natural. It's what makes us humble. While we should recognize these fears, don't let them restrict you. Trying to not be emotionally responsive to our actions can help us overcome these professional fears, and go get 'em.
Meeting Dr.Bennet Omalu was a definite highlight of this year and his lessons will certainly remain with me for a while to come! His enlightening perspective was friendly and motivating, and I'm so grateful we got the chance to hear his speak!
Thank you Dr.Omalu for coming to our University and thank you University of Pécs for the opportunity! We hope to see you again soon!