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This doctor's patients really take his advice to heart

Dr. Neil Skolnik knew something had to change when he found himself out of breath as he walked through Philadelphia International Airport on his way to give a lecture on—of all things—diabetes. Though he wasn't diabetic, he also wasn't in good shape. Through diligent diet and exercise, Dr. Skolnik lost weight, started to exercise, and got a handle on his diet. What's more, the patients who hadn't truly heard his advice in the past really started to listen. Some have lost weight, and others...


Alexa Drubay's style of yoga will get you laughing

When you head to a yoga class led by Alexa Drubay, leave your mat behind. You won't be doing downward-facing dog or a sun salutation. But if you're like the majority of her students, you'll leave class feeling less stressed and more at peace. It's all thanks to laughter yoga, which combines deep breathing and mindfulness meditation with playful games and spontaneous laughter. Laughter yoga is believed to reduce stress hormones, lift the mood and relax the mind and body. Alexa leads...


Dr. Dan Eun's journey from the mission field to the surgical field

Dr. Daniel Eun is the chief of Temple University Hospital's Robotic Surgery program and directs its Minimally Invasive Robotic Urologic Oncology and Reconstructive Surgery program. Which means he's on the cutting edge of complex, state-of-the-art robotic surgery techniques that require tremendous skill and, at times, tremendous resilience and flexibility. But before he became a leader in this cutting-edge field, Dr. Eun faced obstacles at every step on his path. Whether it was affording...


Thanks to this med student, your doctor may someday prescribe fresh fruits and veggies

Sarayna Schock understands the importance of good nutrition from a patient's perspective and, now, from a doctor's perspective. After educating herself and modifying her own unhealthy diet, Sarayna connected the dots between good nutrition, better health, and local agricultural practices. A third-year medical student at Penn State College of Medicine, Sarayna is the creator of ProduceRx, a unique program that uses a doctor's prescription pad to connect people who need more fruits and...


Dr. Allan Wulc on measuring and perfecting the human face

Dr. Allan Wulc knows a thing or two about looking good. A Philadelphia-area plastic surgeon specializing in facial procedures, Dr. Wulc brings his background in the arts and a fascination for human beauty to his practice of helping restore and enhance his patients' faces. In this episode, Dr. Wulc explains to Andy how perceptions of beauty have changed over time and what generally makes for a beautiful face. (Plus, he explains toward the end of the episode how he could improve Andy and...


Dr. Michael Green asks his med students to doodle more in class

Fourth-year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine are not only allowed to doodle in class, but encouraged to. Dr. Michael J. Green teaches an elective course called "Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narratives" in which his students document their own experiences in medical school using short comics. It's much more than an outlet for creative expression or a way to blow off a little steam: graphic medicine can have a profound impact on how patients, doctors, and...


Many of Dr. Asif Ilyas's patients stay awake (and watch!) during surgery

When Dr. Asif Ilyas talks to his patients prior to an orthopedic surgery, one of the things they discuss is whether the patient should be given anesthesia to keep them asleep during the procedure. Many are surprised to learn that there are actually numerous benefits of staying awake and using only local anesthesia to numb the surgical site. But "awake surgery" is not for everyone, and it has a profound effect on how surgeons and their teams must conduct themselves in the OR. Dr. Ilyas, a...


Med students Tyler Rainer and Matthew Trifan tell us a story

Med students don't treat patients until their third year in their program—they spend a lot of time in the classroom until that year. So it's no surprise that third- and fourth-year students have a lot of interesting stories from their first days on the front lines of medicine. In this episode, Andy listens to two young storytellers: Tyler Rainer and Matthew Trifan, fourth-year med students at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Both share compelling stories from their...


Dr. Salvatore Mangione's med students are also artists

"Reincorporating humanities into the curriculum is nothing more than going back to the future. Medicine is the most humanistic of all the sciences and clearly the most scientific of the humanities." Dr. Salvatore Mangione's med students write plays, visit museums, and even learn to draw. But these humanities classes aren't extras—they're a vital part of how students at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University cultivate empathy, improve their observational skills, and...


Dr. Alan Haber on how telling stories has helped—and not helped—patients

I find that sharing something personal can level the playing field—but whether people want that or not can be a little harder to say. Lung specialist Dr. Alan Haber may not define himself as a storyteller, but he's certainly found a way of capturing some of the most poignant moments from his years as a physician. He took second place in a storytelling competition hosted by the Annals of Internal Medicine, and he's published columns in prominent medical journals that explore his family...


Dr. Bennett Lorber on how doctors can develop better observational skills

"All of us, no matter what we do, need things in our lives that are regenerative and restorative. You need to get your batteries recharged." If you imagine Dr. Bennett Lorber walking the halls of Temple University Hospital in a white coat, you're not seeing the whole picture. Though he's one of the foremost authorities in the world on the listeriosis bacterial infection and he's spent 40 years as a professor and specialist in Infectious Diseases, medicine is just one aspect of his...


Scott Charles unpacks gun violence and reaching at-risk youth

"We've abandoned kids to these concrete islands, and they're writing their own social codes without the help of the knowledge and wisdom that existed before them. It's no wonder they're making terrible mistakes." Scott Charles is the co-creator and director of an award-winning program at Philadelphia's Temple University Hospital called Cradle To Grave. It's an innovative violence prevention initiative that gives students and adjudicated young people a concrete look at the harsh realities...


Bruce Herdman on why improving prison healthcare helps society at large

Bruce Herdman, PhD, MBA, spent much of his career improving how things work within complex health systems. So perhaps it's no surprise that he's found meaningful work as Chief Medical Officer for the Philadelphia Prison System, which houses (and provides medical care) for about the same number of people as all of Philadelphia's academic medical centers combined. In this episode, Bruce talks with Andy about the unusual and often complex needs of those who pass through Philadelphia's prison...


Nurse navigator Lillie Shockney on surviving breast cancer—twice

"Telling stories is one of the best ways we can remember someone. It also gives permission for patients to say, 'I think I have a story to tell.'" Nurse navigator Lillie D. Shockney is intimately familiar with breast cancer. She's directed the Johns Hopkins Breast Center for nearly 20 years and leads their cancer survivorship program. She's also written 14 books and hundreds of articles on the subject. But what truly makes her an expert is the fact that she's a two-time survivor of breast...


Common misconceptions about organ donation with Gift of Life's Howard Nathan

"We offer an opportunity to turn a tragedy into something that many families see as the one positive thing that happened outside of the tragedy they faced." Twenty-two people die each day waiting for an organ transplant, and a new person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. This is the challenge that Howard Nathan has been up against for his entire career. As President and CEO of Philadelphia's Gift of Life Donor Program, Howard began his tenure in organ procurement as a...


Pulitizer Prize-winning writer Mike Vitez on why doctors should be storytellers

Mentioned in this episode: After leap breaks body, a miracle renews spirit - The Philadelphia Inquirer A winner, home to heal: Recovering from fall, he says depression didn't defeat him - The Philadelphia Inquirer How to Tell a Mother Her Child Is Dead by Naomi Rosenberg - The New York Times Mike's books, including Great Americans: Stories of Resilience and Joy in Everyday Life "I love immersing myself in somebody's life and telling their story and trying to give dignity and celebrate...


Dr. David Jaslow on what you don't know about disaster response

"At the end of the day, it's not the millions of dollars of toys and technology and vehicles. It comes down to people who are absolute experts who are at the top of their game and love to do what they do."


Dr. Jennifer Simmons unpacks breast cancer's PR machine

"The vast majority of my patients live, and they live changed—a lot of them for the better." Dr. Jennifer Simmons is the chief of breast surgery at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, outside of Philadelphia. Andy met her because of her work with breast cancer, a disease that touched her family at a very young age and continues to occupy much of her work life. In this episode, Andy and Dr. Simmons discuss the public relations machine behind breast cancer, how she balances her work and home...


Dr. John Kelly explains why healing needs humor

"Humor is a gift of God, and it should be used to build people up." Dr. John Kelly specializes in shoulder surgery at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. Andy knows him from his days at Temple University Hospital, where Dr. Kelly earned a reputation as both a compassionate doctor and a hilarious stand-up comedian. In this episode, he talks with Andy about humor's impact on healing, the importance of mindfulness, and how practicing medicine improves with age. Get in touch with us at...


Dr. Amy Goldberg on God, guns, and surviving in Emergency Medicine

"It won't be the hours that chase me from trauma surgery. It will be that I can't tell another family member that their loved one has died." Dr. Amy Goldberg is the head of surgery at Temple University Hospital, but Andy knows her from her years running the hospital's trauma department. In this episode, Amy talks with Andy about how loved ones respond to tragedy after a patient dies, her perception of how gun violence has changed over the years, and how she manages the daily stresses of...