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Where can the people learn more about your passion project and the dope work you are putting out into the world.
What do you do for Full-time work?
So my 9-to-5, as you would say, is I'm a general cardiologist by training. I'm currently a second year general cardiology Fellow at Georgetown University and Medstar, Washington Hospital Center. I'm really interested in preventive cardiology, and advanced cardiac imaging.
You know, I really got into medicine to address healthcare disparities. Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of black Americans in this country even to this day. And so cardiology was an easy choice for me.
What is your passion project and how long has it been in existence?
my passion project specifically, is using virtual reality in order to address several inequities that exist in the healthcare field, specifically, tackling implicit bias. So implicit bias is something you know, just as it says it's implicit. It's something that we don't think that we necessarily always are subject to, but you know, everyone has their own biases. Unfortunately, in this country, health inequities, health disparities continue to be super pervasive. And one of those things that continues to perpetuate is this implicit bias. So, you know, oftentimes, as clinicians, we have underlying biases, you know, just from being members of society, and a lot of research and studies have shown that these biases can have a real and dramatic impact on how we take care of patients, and particularly outcomes. And so, you know, there's a lot of data that suggests that implicit bias is a bad thing. But there's not a lot of data that shows what we can actually do about it. And so in that space, I was really, you know,
hoping to use technology, and innovative technology in that, in order to create a mechanism and a tool and a module in order to help train clinicians such as myself, in order to address their biases on an everyday basis so that we can work at those healthcare inequities that are so pervasive.
It's something that's in the works, you know, we're putting in a lot of work. And there's just a, there's a space here that I believe to do a lot of good. And also, you know, have some personal gain to it from a financial aspect as well, you know, I think it's something positive that I really want to put into the world. And I truly believe in its power and impact in order to, like I said, address the healthcare disparities. And at the same time, I think it's a waiver that we can make money too.
What is your project’s origin story: Why did you start this project; what was the passion behind the project.
Like I mentioned, I'm a general cardiology Fellow at Georgetown. So I do my day job currently is cardiology, but before this, I went through internal medicine resident residency at Emory University. And while at Emory, I love Emory, specifically because I got to do a bulk of my training at Grady Memorial Hospital. If you know anything about Atlanta, then you know, Grady Hospital, it's really the heartbeat of the city. It's where a lot of people of color come to get their care. It's one of the largest safety net hospitals in the city. And it's just an amazing place to train and to take care of patients. And while I was there, unfortunately, in this country, only about 2% of physicians are Black male Americans. And so as you can imagine, in my class of, you know, say 30 or so, resident physicians,
I was the only Black male physician in my program. And so, you know, one of the things that I constantly was made aware of is, you know, there are certain biases that exist when we take care of patients. It's just something that innately that I see. You know, because of my upbringing, because of
I was raised, and because of the way that I look at the world. And so, you know, I saw this bias. And I saw the bias, even in myself, you know, even even as a Black American physician, I saw that even myself, I had my own biases that I needed to work at and address every single day. And so, you know, as a resident physician, we have to give a senior grand rounds. And so I gave my senior grand rounds on implicit bias. And I did all this research, and I, you know, I looked so deep into the topic, and I read every article on the subject. And everyone talked about how this is such a bad thing, you know, biases, bias, it's so rough, and it's really affecting our patients. But there was nothing in the literature about, you know, what we can actually do,
and you know, what sort of technologies are available, so that we can address our biases on a day to day basis. And so, you know, I was talking to one of my friends about this, and we were just shooting the breeze chopping it up. And then she actually mentioned that she had a friend that was doing something with virtual reality, and then the light bulb clicked. And just like that, the idea came about that maybe we can use virtual reality technology in order to create scenarios for physicians, where physicians can then put themselves in the shoes of the patient. So for example, if I'm a white physician working in the emergency department, this virtual reality technology will allow me to pretend to be perhaps maybe a black woman coming with pain, and to being able to see and, you know, develop that bit of empathy about what it's like to present to the hospital as a person of color. And so the idea just sort of took off from there.
You know, one of the big things that I've done and one of the kind of saving graces that has really helped the project continue to grow is that I surrounded myself with a team of amazing individuals that really helped to keep and breathe life into the project. So I have a technologist that we work with, we have, you know, a wonderful person that really helps to coordinate everyone and continue to brainstorm and then we have, you know, another person who has some legal experience to help do some of the literature review and kind of make sure all the everything else is really tidy. And so we have a really strong brain trust. And you know, we're continuing to push forward.
Is there a point where you hesitated to start it? What got you over that hump?
Absolutely. I mean, so as you can imagine, that I work work all the time, I mean, seven to seven, multiple days, you know, usually only a couple days off a month, my schedule is hectic, it's crazy, a lot of times I'm working nights, you know, I pick up extra shifts to in order to make some extra money on the side. So my work schedule is busy, it's super demanding, as you can imagine. And then on top of that, you know, I do a lot of Critical Care Medicine too. And so, you know, it's, it's, it's stressful, and it wears you down. And you know, dealing with the high intensity of the job, you know, oftentimes we get home, you don't want to work on your side project, or you don't want to kind of do this extra thing on top of it, you just want to get in that bed and put on your favorite show and, and eat something good and chill out, you know, but like I said, so I live in one of the best things that I could have ever done was I align myself with amazing smart people. So, you know, I like I have people, the people in my group, or I trust them, you know, wholeheartedly, and their brains are one, I love the way they think we are all communicating all the time. And we're all sort of aligned with this main goal, that we all really want to see innovation, used as a modality to address health inequities. And that's the underlying fire that aligns all of us and adjoins all of us. And because of that, you know, there's also a sense that I don't want to let these people down, you know, this people on this team that we've some I don't want to let them down, you know, and I grew up, I'm a sports guy played soccer, in college, you know, other sports growing up, and I love being on the team, you know, and and that team spirit is what continues to to fuel us, when I don't have the energy, someone else is always there to pick up the ball or, you know, when I'm feeling super motivated, I'm able to to bring the group along. And we all have certain roles that we have to identify in this team in order to move us forward. And I haven't clearly identified roles, and surrounding myself with amazingly smart people. It's sort of the best thing I've done in this project.
One of the biggest challenges people face when it comes to starting passion projects is finding time in their already busy lives to do it. How did you find or make time for your project?
So you know, the one thing that I will say is I am a Google Calendar nerd. Everything goes on the calendar, you know, wake up on the calendar, breakfast on the calendar, your workouts are on the calendar. And everything gets time in the space, there's only 24 hours in a day, trust me, I wish there were more I would stretch it out and quit if I could, but there are only 24 hours. And you know, as someone who works hard, I also love to sleep too. So I get at least six hours every day, because I know if I don't sleep, I'm not my best. So you take out the six hours that you do for sleep, you know, you put your workout in your meals, and then you only have a set amount of time. And so you really have to be extremely efficient with how you are spending your time not wasting much time. You know, one thing about me is I love to cook, right. But I found that I spend a lot of time in the grocery store. So I ended up having to just do instacart in order to get a little bit take back more of my time, so I can use that time more efficiently. And once you sort of step back from your life and reevaluate how you're actually spending every minute and every hour of the day, you look up you might hey, here's a little bit more time I find a little more time here. One thing, a funny story is that Grady Hospital, the hospital in Atlanta at Emory that I used to work at the elevators were awful, it's just the worst things ever, you know that you wait 15 minutes on an elevator, just to you know, go up to you know, the 10th floor or something. But what I found is instead of just sitting there, you know, flicking through Instagram, I could write a couple emails out while I was waiting for the elevator. And so what I would use that time waiting on elevators to kind of draft in my emails out to people that I was trying to network with, so you know, maximizing your time. And, but then also in the same breath, not feeling stressed where you know, you have to do everything all at once. There are plenty of days where I say I can't do it and I just don't get it. And I'm okay with that. Because I know the next day, I will wake up and want to get after it.
Another big challenge faced is fatigue. You work 9-to-5, it takes up 95% of your energy. And we are not even talking about family and their needs yet. What can you share with the listeners about getting energy after all the demands of life?
I mean, energy is one of the most important commodities that we will have. I mean, your money and your energy. That's, that's it right there. I mean, those are the two commodities that you know, are not infinite. And I totally, I mean, it's a real struggle for me at times. One thing that I'm really intentional about is I take days off for sure. When I get a day off, and I get some time I break. And you know, I don't let anybody get in the way of my my self care, you know, whatever it is for you, whether it's taking a bath, maybe is going to the gym playing ball, you know, watching a good show, I definitely take time to break because I mean, that restores you, and you are only as good as the energy that you can bring the next day. For sure. One thing that I'm really intentional about too is scheduling my vacations, man, I try to get away whenever I can, you know, COVID has made that difficult. But before that, you know, I was I was really really interested in law scheduling weekend trips away spending time with family, you know, that sort of thing because that is kind of the fuel that that really tries to restore you
operate. We're does that awareness come from?
trial and error and failing at things and not being able to do it all You know, one thing I will tell you the story so you know, when I was growing up, I used to want to do it all man. Okay, so I played soccer in high school. I played basketball in high school, I played baseball in high school. I played the trumpet and I also tried to score and what I learned is, you know, he tried to do all these things and you end up doing a bunch of things half assed, you know, excuse my English, but you end up being mediocre at all these things. But you really have to focus on the things that you really, really want to be great at and what you really, really want to be great at. I don't know if you ever read the book, good to great, but it's an excellent read and it's one that I truly recommend.
But it really talks about how companies make that jump from being good companies to being great companies. And one of the key points they talk about is, you know, finding a spot in the market where you can be great at, instead of trying to be good at a lot of different things, is being great at this one thing, and really focusing on that, and spending your time and effort in order to be great at that one thing. And that's one thing I learned in life. And that took a lot of trial and effort from me, and, you know, just getting older, and then learning what works for you. And this seems to work for me.
I have heard about passion projects providing renewed confidence and new skills when it comes to people’s day jobs. How has your passion project impacted the way you show up at your day job?
Like I said, I'm a cardiologist by training. And the reason why I do any of this at all, is because I care deeply about Black people. That's it. Point blank, I care deeply about my community. I care deeply about the patients that I take care of. And, you know, it matters to me, my patients, the people, that's what means the most. You know, I love the science. I love the physiology. I love the anatomy, all of that is excellent. But at the end of the day, it's just the people. And it's that connection that inspires me every day. And the thing about this passion project is I know that it will help the people I know in my heart, and I feel so strongly that this is a tool that we can use to help the people. We always talk about health disparities. We talk about health inequities. How about this? You know, even with COVID, we talk about disparaging mortalities, and all these sorts of things. And I'm sick of it, I'm sick of talking about it. And without sort of, you know, doing something, yes. You know, as a clinician, we do things and we take care of it, we try our best we do our damnedest, but I really, really, really think this is an innovative way that we can step outside the boundaries and take care of our patients, you know, and address something that has such a negative impact on patient outcomes. And so this passion project really is fueled by, you know, the reason why I went to become a doctor to begin with. And so it's all sort of full circle for me.
There is someone out there listening to this recording who has something they are passionate about but they are on-the-fence when it comes to starting. What bit of guidance would you provide to them?
One thing that I think that a lesson that I have learned in this project, is you have to sort of take things in sort of bite sized chunks in order to continue to progress towards your goal. So this project of virtual reality using innovation, it's really never been done before. So there's a lot of people that I've talked to about this, and you know, they're like, Oh, that sounds expensive. Oh, I don't know how we're gonna get this done. I don't know. I don't know. I've heard a lot of no's and a lot of people questioning it. But I know deep down that this is something that's going to be good. And I know that this will help me leave my lasting mark in taking care of patients and addressing those health inequities. And so, one thing that I've learned is, every day even though you you might have heard no, the day before you take a little bit of a small step forward, the next day, you continue to send that one email, you do that one little thing, you keep taking bites, small little bites and small little bites. And after a while you've made a lot of progress. I think when I first took on this undertaking, I was like, Oh, this will be something that I can do in a couple months. And, you know, hopefully, we can see some results. And it wasn't like that that wasn't the case. And it's still not the case. It's something that we're still actively working on every single day in order to make progress. But keeping that perspective, and you know, keeping the end goal in mind, while still slowly taking off chunks every single day is a mindset that I've had to develop but I think has been critical.
Lastly, are there any particular books that you have found helpful along the passion project journey? Please share 1 to 3 of them if any come to mind.
The one that comes to mind is Good To Great. That's an excellent book. And I read that book, I'm in a fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity incorporated one of my Prophytes passed it along to me, shortly after I crossed. And that has been, I mean, it's an excellent book, you know, it talks about how companies can go from mediocre to extraordinary. But there's a lot of, you know, rules. And there's a lot of sort of tips that are in that book that you can extrapolate to personal growth and personal development, in order to, you know, take not only whatever you're doing, from, you know, pretty good to extraordinary. So I couldn't recommend that book anymore. It's been excellent.
And then another thing, not not really a book, but one thing that I can't stress enough, is just talk to people. Because there's so many times that, you know, I mentioned this idea, and someone says, Well, why don't you talk to this person? And I'll get another really good idea or, you know, why don't you mention it to this person? And you know, I'll really get to see, you know, I'll look at things from a different perspective. And so that has been really, really influential for me is getting a lot of different perspectives on this topic in order to really think thoughtfully about the idea.