Dr. Rana Awdish is the author of In Shock, a critically acclaimed, bestselling memoir based on her own critical illness. She is a sought-after public speaker, delivering inspirational keynote addresses to groups ranging from professional medical societies, to members of Congress, to organizations combatting homelessness.
A pulmonary and critical care physician, she serves as the current Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Henry Ford Hospital. She also serves as Medical Director of Care Experience for the System, where she has integrated compassionate communication strategies and Narrative Medicine practice into the curriculum.
Dr. Awdish received the prestigious Schwartz Center’s National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award in 2017. She was named Physician of the Year by Press Ganey in 2017 for her work on improving communication and received the Critical Care Teaching Award in 2016. She has been inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and the Gold Humanism Honor Society. In 2020, the podcast This American Life documented the COVID pandemic in Detroit in an episode entitled The Reprieve, using Awdish’s audio diary of Henry Ford Hospital employees’ experience during that time. She was named a Healthcare Hero by US News and World Report in 2020 for her work during the pandemic.
Her narrative non-fiction essays have been published in The Examined Life Journal, Intima, CHEST and The New England Journal of Medicine. She has written editorials for The Harvard Business Review, Annals of Internal Medicine, The Washington Post and The Detroit Free Press. Her essay The Shape of the Shore was awarded a Sydney by the New York Times and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her book has been translated into multiple languages and is included in medical school and post-graduate curricula throughout the US and UK.
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 MedicineDownload Bio
In ShockMy Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope
St. Martin’s Press
Dr. Rana Awdish speaks on 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.
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.
Dr. Rana Awdish speaks to Michigan Radio Morning Edition on ethical considerations during COVID-19. Take a look at the New York Times’ list of medical memoirs, which features Dr. Awdish’s In Shock 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 Check out this interview on NPR with Rana Awdish Rana Awdish co-authors an article on patient care in the Harvard Business Review
- Dr. Marijo Snyder, Vice President of Medical Staff Development & Clinical Engagement, Bronson Healthcare Group
"Dr. Rana Awdish’s personal story is so incredibly powerful and moving. She captivated attendees with her art and science of storytelling, candid sharing of her healthcare experiences and her ability to connect with the audience with empathy, humor and humanism. Dr. Awdish is a true professional who graciously gave of her time and spirit to impart on our organization the importance of seeing patients as human beings and meeting them where they are in their life. Her presentation skills are flawless – seamlessly recounting her life altering experience with dignity and grace. It was an absolute honor to have Dr. Awdish at our Patient Experience event as she epitomizes how every moment matters."
- Nicole Giammarinaro, RN, MSN, Director, Education & Research, Office of Patient & Customer Experience, Norwell Health
"Dr. Awdish recounts the details of her compelling critical illness, which lead her through a personal transformational journey. She captivated the audience while describing her efforts to refocus health care providers on the patient’s perspective of their care experience. She chronicles her own struggles as a physician- patient and how she engaged her colleagues to break from their historical training and truly listen to their patients and families. From there, she describes how her organization has developed training tools to help doctors learn how to better interact with patients and improve communications in a way that boosts the patient experience while also supporting physicians. Dr. Awdish’s passion for improving patients’ experience to improve patient care and physician well-being is palpable in her presentation. She is a remarkable physician and speaker."
- Carole S. Empey, Principal, Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, PLLC
"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