Why did you choose to become a doctor?
Since I was little, I really wanted to know how things worked. Through college, I explored all kinds of different systems – product design, computer systems, animal systems, and then people. That’s what drew me to medicine: I think people are the most complex things that exist in nature and we could do well to understand each other better. That’s why I went into medicine, and I chose pediatrics because of the culture of authenticity. It’s the place in medicine where honest communication skills are most helpful. Plus, kids play all the time and what could be better than that?
What’s something your peers may not know about you?
I trained as an improvisational actor before medical school, and I actually co-founded the Stanford Improvisers, which now has over 400 members. The essence of that experience was really learning how to listen, not just with your ears, but to hone your observation skills and pay attention to what’s going on in a situation. I learned to use that energy to get somewhere that everyone wants to go. And that’s a skill that I used throughout medical school and residency. I still use those skills every day as a pediatrician.
Any book recommendations you want to share?
I’m a devotee of the late Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh who just died in December. My favorite book of his is Peace Is Every Step. It has many practical lessons on how we can all slow down and be compassionate towards each other.