Rana Awdish
Pulmonologist, Author, & Patient Advocate

Rana Awdish, MD, FCCP is the author of In Shock, a memoir based on her own critical illness. She is a critical care physician and faculty member of Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan.


She completed her medical degree in 2002 at Wayne State, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, her residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, and her fellowship training at Henry Ford Hospital, where she serves as the current Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program.  She was also recently named Medical Director of Care Experience for the entire Health System. Dr. Awdish’s mandate is to improve the patient experience across the system and speak on patient advocacy at health care venues nationally.


After suffering a sudden critical illness herself, she has special interest in improving empathy through connection and communication. She lectures to physicians, health care leaders, and medical schools across the country. She was awarded the Speak-Up Hero Award in 2014 for her work establishing a workshop based program called CLEAR (Connect, Listen, Emphasize, Align, Respect), which trains faculty and trainees in relationship-based communication skills utilizing improvisational actors.


She was named Henry Ford Hospital’s Critical Care Teacher of the Year in 2016. She has been nominated for the Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award by her peers. She has been interviewed for NPR, MedPage, Health Leaders Media and Beckers Hospital Review. Her New England Journal of Medicine Perspectives article, “My View from the Edge,” went viral, garnering over 100,000 views. It is ranked in the 99th percentile for reach.

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In ShockMy Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope
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

Listen to Rana Awdish on the WGVU Morning Show

"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