Rana Awdish
Pulmonologist, Author, & Patient Advocate

Dr. Rana Awdish is the Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension program and a Critical Care Physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. She is also the Medical Director of Care Experience for Henry Ford Health System (a $6 billion, 24,000 employee, multi-hospital system), where she is charged with improving the patient experience across the system and speaking on patient advocacy at health care venues nationally.


Prior to coming to Henry Ford, Dr. Awdish completed her training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in Manhattan. She attended Wayne State University Medical School, and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Her research interests include pulmonary hypertension, yoga for rehabilitation of chronic lung disease, and communication training. She has received numerous awards for teaching and her work in communication including the Speak Up, Hero Award and Critical Care Teacher of the Year Award.


Dr. Awdish never imagined that an emergency trip to the hospital would result in hemorrhaging nearly all of her blood volume and losing her unborn first child. Dr. Awdish spent months fighting for her life, enduring consecutive major surgeries and experiencing multiple overlapping organ failures. At each step of the recovery process, Dr. Awdish was faced with something unexpected: repeated cavalier behavior from her fellow physicians—indifference following human loss, disregard for anguish and suffering, and an exacting emotional distance. Dr. Awdish recorded her experience in a collection of personal essays that laid the framework for her forthcoming book In Shock.


Her lecture, entitled “Empathy in the ICU,” on World Sepsis Day was shared over 4,000 times on social media. Her New England Journal of Medicine article, “A View from the Edge – Creating a Culture of Caring,” reached 90,000 people and ranked in the 99th percentile for any journal publication in terms of social media reach.


Photo by Ray Manning

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In ShockMy Journey from Doctor to Patient – What I Learned about Modern Medicine’s Inhumanity
St. Martin’s Press

Dr. Rana Awdish intimates her story of loss, illness, and treatment and and the revelations derived from her experiences. Hauntingly perceptive and beautifully written, In Shock allows the reader to transform alongside Awidsh and watch as she discovers the flaws in her profession and in her own past actions as a physician while achieving, through unflinching presence, a crystalline vision of a new and better possibility for us all.

The Wound is the Gift Dr. Awdish intimates lessons learned from surviving critical illness. She focuses on the illuminating power of moments that shatter our bodies and allow us access to truths. "The Wound is the Gift" is an inspiring talk about how confronting our own mortality can help us to find meaning and peace. Ultimately, our dependence on each other and our interconnectedness are beautiful.
In Shock As a critically-ill patient, Dr. Awdish appreciated a dark hole at the center of a flurry of what was otherwise highly-proficient, astoundingly skillful care. It took years of being a patient to understand that though the healing potential of knowledge is magical, it is also a lie. Medicine cannot heal in a vacuum; it requires connection.
The Power of Words From her experience as a patient, Dr. Awdish saw how inadvertently hurtful even an amazing doctor's words could be. There is suffering that is intrinsic to disease, and then there is the suffering that we confer, which is very much avoidable.
The Broken Vessel Dr. Awdish focuses on what is needed to heal medicine and how medical training distances physicians from patients. It is only by giving primacy to the patient narrative, building resilience in physicians, and forming a community that we can hope to reunite the sparks to a cohesive whole, with the power to heal us all.

Check out the official Dr. Rana Awdish website

Read and listen to an interview with Dr. Awdish on MedPage Today

Read “A View From the Edge — Creating a Culture of Caring” by Dr. Awdish in The New England Journal of Medicine

Listen to CBC Radio’s As It Happens interview with Dr. Awdish

Follow Dr. Awdish on Twitter

"When I first heard Dr. Awdish speak about her experience as a patient in our ICU I was mesmerized. Her insights into how we can do a better job, as medical professionals, with our patients is absolutely inspiring. I have been a critical care nurse for 16 years and she inspired me to change my approach with my patients and their families. To be a better nurse: to listen more, to be present, to show empathy, to see the patient not the disease, and to support, educate and advocate for my patients and their families. Dr. Awdish is truly an engaging speaker that will change the way we as medical professionals practice medicine."
- Marilee Mann, Henry Ford Hospital

"Breathtaking, exceptional. Rana Awdish is at once a dying patient and a highly respected critical care physician. Her generosity of spirit brings laser focus to both perspectives as she lays these double lives side by side under a single microscope, impeccably weaving together the worlds of personal loss and faltering medical care. She bears the souls of both with graphic accuracy; pulling the audience into their own humanity as they feel the crushing blows of well-intended, but recklessly delivered messages; the horrifying loss of personal agency and the innate will to regain ourselves. Her keen observations as both patient and doctor are so vivid that they suck the breath out of the room. As she leads us to our own conclusion that (in medicine) ‘we can do better,’ she builds the case for restoring compassionate care and humanity to healthcare."
- Maria S. Kokas, Henry Ford Hospital

"There is a transformative power as Dr. Awdish speaks from the heart about her experiences as a patient in her own Intensive Care Unit. Her survival is remarkable, as is the optimism she retains while presenting a tangible path to greater empathy in modern medicine. If you have ever felt burdened by the lack of humanity in medicine, you must experience Dr. Awdish presenting live."
- Dana Buick, Palliative Care Physician and Communication Consultant

"Rana Awdish tells her story to help make all physicians better doctors. Her experiences as a critical care doctor and critically ill patient combine into a powerful lesson for all of those who hope to heal others. Dr. Awdish's strong voice guides physicians to treat all with empathy, improving both outcomes and patient experiences."
- Lewis Eisen, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Albert Einstein University

"[Rana's] indomitable spirit lifts us as we hear [her] poetic storytelling on [her] remarkable journey to and from death's edge. We can almost hear the careless insecurities spoken about [Rana] in the O.R. We can hear and feel the numbing lack of empathy during [her] crushing ultrasound moment. We are stunned by the poorly choiced words spoken to [Rana]. We are simply stunned. Despite this shock, as Dr. Awdish, states with profound optimism and simplicity, 'We can do better.'"
- Kamran Boka, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine & Pulmonary & Critical Care Physician at UTHealth McGovern Medical School

"Rana Awdish's story is powerful, emotional, and instructive. As a member of the health care community, she knows why we say the things we do, and then puts those sayings in a whole new light. She is a polished and thoughtful speaker who will keep the audience attentive the entire time she is speaking.”
- Mary Reich Cooper, MD, JD, Vice President and Chief Quality Officer at Connecticut Hospital Association