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A transformative experience for students and residents

How would you define Chaos + Clarity? The TEDMED 2018 theme was one that we all could relate to—who better to define this theme than the two residents and two students who accompanied us to this unforgettable conference?  

On this episode of Boldly, Kyle Brown, Director, Social Innovation at Joule, is joined by our #GettoTEDMED challenge winners as they reflect on their time at the world-renown conference in Palm Springs, California. On their last day there, medical students Xiya Ma, Marc Levin and medical residents Dr. Gaya Narendran and Dr. Mino Mitri got together to reflect on the past 2.5 days and how their TEDMED experiences will go on to help shape their lives―both personally and professionally. 
tweetable: It’s motivated me to really strongly consider being a speaking coach myself.
Listen as we find out what they were anticipating from the conference and whether it met their expectations. They share their “aha” moments from TEDMED and many of their key takeaways. They discuss what the future of Canadian health care could look like after hearing from each speaker―and how they can implement change now to impact that future. 
tweetable: Many times, I went into the theater thinking I’m not really sure what the relevance of this topic [would be]. And I’ve been proven completely wrong. 

Key takeaways

Before arriving, what were they looking forward to at TEDMED?
  • For Dr. Mitri, it was the TEDMED style of the speakers.
  • Dr. Narendran was especially looking forward to who she would meet.
  • Xiya was most looking forward to the challenging of ideas and meeting new people. 
  • Marc was simply looking to be inspired. 
tweetable: So, it’s all these little moments of realizing who is here and who am I in the presence of and it’s very humbling to be in the presence of all these wonderful people with the experience that they bring and the ideas that they’re coming to share.
What “aha” moments did they have? 
  • Dr. Narendran most appreciated the diversity and accomplishments of all the speakers.
  • Xiya found that she could relate to Thomas Curran’s talk which studied the personality traits of perfectionism.
  • Marc’s “aha” moment was realizing what separated the TEDMED speakers from others is that they took action to make a change.
  • Dr. Mitri was excited to recognize people he had recently read about and was inspired by such as Lucy Kalanithi (the widower of author Paul Kalanithi who wrote When Breath Becomes Air).
tweetable: Maybe I didn’t meet as many people as I thought, but the depth of conversations that you could have with somebody who, on face value, you have nothing in common with―and then you realize that you actually have such deep things in common, deep goals in common that you want to see health care going towards or patient care going towards… there are no words. It was very, very cool.”
What do they see as the future of health care in Canada?
  • Increasing the circle of care.
  • Decreasing the cost and increasing the efficiency of technologies.
  • Wearable technologies.
  • 3D printing.
  • Portable ultrasound.
  • Virtually painless vaccinations.
  • Sterile operating room in a backpack.
  • Using technology to go back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle.
tweetable: What separates these people from the others that have ideas is that they actually go out and do it.
What learnings did they say they could action to achieve this future in medicine?
  • Be open and listen to everyone’s ideas. 
  • Teach and collaborate.
  • Continue to be inspired and find people and situations that inspire you.  
  • Find friends in other fields and collaborate with them. 
tweetable: Innovation sometimes―and most of the time―is not really about reinventing the wheel, just modifying the wheel.
If they could only say one thing about TEDMED, what would that be? 
  • Speak to people because you never know where those conversations could go.
  • Ask yourself what you can do to help. Your neighbor could be anyone around you. How can you help them?
  • “Our hope is what makes us who we are.” - Steve Pantilat
  • Do it… and then think about it. You just have to make the first step and try. 
tweetable: I think that in medicine and health care, we focus a lot on what the problems are and what’s going wrong with our systems―but what I found when I came to TEDMED is the everyone here wasn’t focusing so much on the problems, but more on the solutions.

Recommended resources

More from our TEDMED ambassadors’ experiences:


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The opinions stated by podcast participants are made in a personal capacity and do not reflect those of the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiaries including Joule. Joule does not endorse any views, product, service, association, company or industry mentioned in this podcast.