I recently discovered TED talks.  Being the not-so secret nerd that I am, I watch them on my exercise bike in the morning, sweat dripping onto the keys of my laptop.  Might as well double task working out my mind and body simultaneously.  TED talks are like inspirational crack- I can feel myself peddling faster and faster as I watch the successful share their stories.  They make me want to do something BIG with my life, or at least with my morning workout.

So, I thought I would share a few of my favorites with you, expect more to come.  With more than 1,500 mini speeches posted on TED.com, I only scratched the surface of the medically related talks.  Prepare to be inspired.

1. Health Care Should Be a Team Sport  By Eric Dishman

In college, Eric Dishman was told by doctors that he had 2-3 years to live due to a chronic medical condition.  Now much further into adulthood this was obviously not the case.  During Eric’s time in the hospital, he suffered multiple complications and frustrations but has come out on the other side with a positive attitude hoping his experiences will help change medicine.  A snow sports enthusiast, Eric cares more about quality of life than longevity and made his doctor scrawl on his chart “Only prescribe medications with side effects favorable to snow skiing”.

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As NPs and PAs, Eric reminds us the importance of honoring the wishes of our patients and working with them to decide the best path to take for their treatment.  For most, living a meaningful life will outweigh longevity.

2. A Broken Body Isn’t a Broken Person  By Janine Shepherd

Olympic bound cross-country skier Janine Shepherd was training on her bike one day with fellow athletes when she was hit by a truck.  Doctors told her she would remain a paraplegic and never walk again.  Depressed but tenacious, Janine refused to take their words to heart.  As she slowly recovered, she was drawn to the freedom of flying.  Still having difficulty with walking, she began to study and train as a pilot.  Janine ultimately recovered, proving doctors wrong.  She now spreads her story inspiring individuals not to give up on their dreams.

As medical providers, we’re often asked by patients about their prognosis.  While it’s important to deliver realistic expectations, don’t sell your patients short.  Give a little encouragement along the way, you never know who’s broken body might heal in unexpected ways.

3. The Voices in My Head  By Eleanor Longden

I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness.  How do people begin to hear voices?  Why?  What is the experience like for the person we label as “crazy”?  This TED talk explains it all.  Eleanor Longden began to hear voices in college.  They were benign, simply narrating her life.  She told a friend who encouraged her to get help and agreed to seek help in the traditional mental health system.  There began her downward spiral.  Eleanor lucidly relates what it’s like to be diagnosed with schizophrenia and how she overcame her illness.

4. Doctors Make Mistakes.  Can We Talk About That?  By Brian Goldman

Nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physicians all make mistakes.  It you’ve worked in healthcare long enough, you’ve probably made one too.  But what happens when you mess-up in medicine?  No one talks about it.  The incident is kept on the DL, spoken about only with a supervisor in hushed tones once or twice.  Then, everyone moves on pretending nothing ever happened.

Physician Brian Goldman wants to change the way medical errors are addressed.  Sharing his own mistakes, he puts himself out there and in a refreshing tone encourages medical professionals to be more honest and transparent with themselves and their coworkers.  We can’t learn from our mistakes if we don’t discuss them.

5. Between Music and Medicine  By Robert Gupta

Robert Gupta couldn’t decide if he should pursue a career as physician or a violinist.  In the end realized he could do both.  In this touching talk, Dr. Gupta explains how he bridges the gap between illness and what traditional medicine can accomplish with music.

As NPs and PAs, we often prescribe, prescribe, prescribe.  But, it’s important to think outside the box.  Sometimes non-traditional treatments are the most effective.

What are your favorite healthcare TED talks?

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