How I Fell In Love at TEDMED

Over the exhilarating four days this past week, we all fell in love a little bit — with the city, the Center, the meeting, the ideas, and one another. The city was Washington, DC, a touch past its cherry-blossom blush; the meeting was, of course, TEDMED. The ideas were of about honoring our health, environment, food, and about making health and healthcare efficient and kind for all.

I fell in love with dreamers. Though their dreams were varied, their paths to fulfilling them all converged into the same stream. Like a trip down the Amazon that the biggest dreamer of all, Jay Walker, the curator and the force behind the meeting used as a metaphor for TEDMED 2012, they accepted their tortuous and demanding journeys and, much to our delight and benefit, made a stop at the Kennedy Center. And although I will only mention a few, many others will stay with and inspire me for the months to come until TEDMED 2013.

I fell in love with Bryan Stevenson, who spoke about his grandmother and identity and justice.

I fell in love with Rebecca Onie, who, while transforming the care of the urban poor is also transforming the face of student activism.

I fell in love with Traces, a Montreal performance group who made my heart stop with their daring acts of precision. Our healthcare system can learn a lot from these young people.

I fell in love with Jacob Scott and Sandeep Kishore, both of them young, energetic and passionately committed to changing the face of medical education.

I fell in love with Ed Gavagan, who told the story of his confrontation with death with courage, humor and honesty.

And yes, I fell in love with and was made to weep by Robert Gupta’s transcendent violin and Stephen Petronio’s defiant vulnerability.

TEDMED 2012 was a feast, and now I am back to the journey of my real life: calls to make, e-mails to return, analyses to do, papers to write, a book to get to market. It all seems just a little drab compared to the four days I spent in this intellectual and emotional climax. But like a great yoga session, TEDMED was restorative, rejuvenating, and remarkably inspirational. The mix of hard core science, the arts, history and frank curiosity sparked personal ideas and renewed personal commitments to executing my dreams for a better society. Spurred by Sekou Andrews‘ and Steve Connell’s raw poetry performance, like a youngster in love for the first time, I am ready to GO!

Marya Zilberberg, MD, MPH, is a physician health services researcher with a specific interest in healthcare-associated complications and a broad interest in the state of our healthcare system. She is the Founder and President of EviMed Research Group, LLC, a consultancy specializing in epidemiology, health services and outcomes research. She is also a professor of Epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Zilberberg blogs at Healthcare, etc.

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