Mastering Intensive Care 041 with Rana Awdish

If you work in healthcare and haven’t read the book In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope I really hope you will.

In the meantime listen to intensivist and best-selling author Dr Rana Awdish on this week’s episode of Mastering Intensive Care and you’ll understand why. In her book, Rana brilliantly tells the real-life story of her near-death experience and subsequent recovery into which she weaves insightful observations and reflections on both the good and the bad of the healthcare she witnessed.

Whilst Rana would have died without the excellence of the team who managed her sudden medical crisis the seeming lack of humanity was stark and frequently counterproductive.

At the time Rana was in the final days of her Critical Care Fellowship in Detroit. Now an intensivist and frequent public speaker she has ample experience and expertise to assist intensive care clinicians to improve, the aim of this show.


Rana graduated from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, completed Internal Medicine residency in New York, and then Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowships at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit where she now works. She is Assistant Professor at the Department of Internal Medicine, Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension program, Senior Staff Physician in the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Medical Director, Care Experience.

Among many accomplishments she is the Physician Facilitator for the CLEAR Conversations program, teaches on communication, bioethics and physician wellness, and has won the National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award at the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.

Apart from beautifully describing how it really felt to be a patient, Rana also talks about:

  • The suboptimal communication encounters she remembers
  • Her gratitude for the skill and grace she received
  • The benefits of being more engaged and connected with our patients
  • Why first impressions matter
  • The value of curiosity
  • Using mindfulness to enhance presence
  • What being cut off from knowledge as a patient felt like
  • Her experience of asking for working suction in her own operation
  • The value of community in unburdening ourselves as health practitioners
  • How Schwartz rounds can be helpful
  • The very first patient she met after recovering from her illness
  • Her belief that showing compassion will make you more efficient
  • The healing effect of family member presence
  • The benefits of self-care (and what Rana does herself)
  • The part spirituality might play in healthcare
  • Better understanding the use of opiates and pain management
  • Going home after a chronic critical illness
  • How the whole experience has affected how she acts on ward rounds

Our own healthcare experiences should not be the main driver towards the compassionate and caring practitioners our patients need. But as you’ll hear in this episode, they can deliver the sort of truth and learning we may not otherwise find.

People, organisations and resources mentioned in the episode:

Further reading and listening

Mastering Internsive Care 700

Mastering Intensive Care

with Andrew Davies

Dr Andrew Davies MBBS FRACP FCIC. Intensivist/researcher at Frankston Hospital, Melbourne. Aiming to bring my best self to work & life. | Mastering Intensive Care | New Normal project |

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