Interview with Dr. Dana Corriel, Internist and Founder of SoMeDocs [Show Summary]
It’s not often you hear from a doctor who has consciously taken time to “smell the roses.” Dr. Dana Corriel shares how she keeps balance in her life while practicing medicine, raising a family, and managing a growing social media presence.
Finding Balance in Medicine, Giving Doctors a Voice on Social Media, and More [Show Notes]
I’m thrilled to introduce our fascinating guest, Dr. Dana Corriel, who graduated from my alma mater, UCLA and then went to medical school at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, graduating in 2003. She did her residency in internal medicine at Albert Einstein in NYC. Since then she has served as Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, practiced medicine, and in 2017 became Director of Quality at Highland Medical, also in NY.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background and where you grew up and how you got interested in medicine? [2:05]
I was born in Israel and moved to the U.S. around age 10, to the LA area – Walnut specifically. I attended UCLA and earned a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience. I then went to medical school at Tel Aviv University, and came back to NY for my residency at Albert Einstein. One unique thing about me is that I took about three years off during that time to stay home and be mom to my three boys. That helped shape who I am today.
Were you scared to take the time off? Worried to come back? [3:48]
There is a multifaceted answer to that. I had spent years and years of my life to become a physician, and it was so difficult to get in and go through the process. So yes, it was very scary in that regard but ultimately very valuable to me. Since I took time away from medicine I was able to discover things about myself I never knew. Doctors always take a very straight path to medicine and don’t stop to smell the roses. I took time off to be with my kids and get to know my kids (I had my first son when I was an intern, when I was working so hard and didn’t have time to really connect). When I took the time to connect I was able to do that but also discover something about myself.
I discovered that I am very creative which puts me in a good place. Burnout really applies to physicians and so many things are broken with healthcare, but part of fixing it is finding out what is missing in yourself that could make it better. Physicians need to find their voice. The thing that puts me in a good place is expressing myself, either through creative writing with my blog or traveling/discovering and sharing that experience with the world.
Judging both by the volume of your writing on your site and the quality of it, you also love to write. Have you always been a writer? [7:24]
Not at all. It is amazing what you can discover by giving yourself time. I had never done any major writing, and didn’t write well when I first started to write. It evolved over time. My ultimate goal is to write a book, either fiction or something in my life that is funny that makes you think – like random things that are metaphorical and help you start to think.
You attended medical school in Israel. How was that experience enriching or difficult? Did you have difficulty coming back to the U.S. and getting a residency? [10:53]
I would not trade it for anything. It was some of the most amazing years of my life. It is incredibly enriching to be in another country – I experienced a lot of personal growth which was incredibly helpful. Medical school is extremely difficult and I had to take additional steps because it was a foreign school. It is harder to get placed than people going to school in the U.S. I ultimately landed a great residency and we had great training. I would be glad to write a blog post about it!
You’ve gone through medical training and taught physicians in training. What do you think premeds and med students don’t think enough about as they begin their training? [14:33]
There is more to life than just medicine. It is a very isolating experience to go down the medical path. Some people have tunnel vision with medicine, and it is sometimes detrimental to live that way. I didn’t connect with my first son in the way I wanted to because I was so involved with medicine. It is ok to dabble and not let go of hobbies and remember your friends and focus on things that make you happy.
In what way is medicine isolating? [16:37]
One way is you are there for people’s downside, not for when they are healthy or at their best, and you are almost like a sponge. In order to help someone you have to really be there for them and absorb their issues and take it on yourself, convert it, and make it better. At the end of the day you have all the negatives in you, and it is important to get rid of that and leave it at the door which is hard to do. Another way is you are the leader, and are always on, always on stage, always mom. Who is your mom and who is going to hold your hand? People look up to you to solve things, but who is going to solve your problems? That’s tough.
Did you ever think that you had made the wrong decision in choosing medicine either before or during medical school? [19:14]
Absolutely. I don’t think there is a physician out there who has never thought that. The road to success is really long and hard.
What would you have done differently in your medical training as you look back on it? [20:35]
I might have chosen to take some more time off in the middle. There was no reason to rush to medical school, and as I said earlier, I think you need to take time to smell the roses. You are a better physician if you have other interests. If I could have traveled more when I was younger I would have.
How do you manage a job, husband, 3 sons, writing, and advocacy? [22:05]
I don’t know. I don’t have enough time on my hands but have gotten better at time management. Number one is to say no, and another is to care less about what other people think. I can’t always be a people pleaser.
How do you or have you maintained your enthusiasm for medicine? [23:42]
The key to happiness in medicine is finding the perfect balance. When I feel that things are not right and I need a break, I take a break. That is what keeps me sane and keeps me going. For me personally it is my family. You have to find whatever it is for you that is your good place.
What is SoMeDocs and why did you start it? [25:20]
It stands for Social Media Doctors and is a website and a Facebook group. The FB group is a way for doctors to connect with other doctors to share what we do. The thinking is if I bring all these talented, motivated doctors together then we can become the healthcare influencers, which is what we should be, rather than the people who are now – celebrities. I wasn’t seeing doctors on social media, and the platforms don’t vet your credentials, and my patients might believe what is out there but is junk science. The idea is for doctors to take back healthcare and wellness. Each one of us has a platform, and we can change things one at a time. SoMeDocs.com is for doctors but also for patients and med students – a place where you can land to see what kind of work different physicians are doing.
Where do you see your career going in the future? [30:52]
My dream is to continue to write, I want to write books. In the meantime SoMeDocs is really growing and I will take advantage of that as well.
What advice do you have for premeds and med students? Is there a place for them on SoMeDocs – the site and/or the FB group? [32:05]
For now the Facebook group is physician-only which is why I branched out to other platforms – the website is for anyone. We hashtag everything we do so you can always connect that way. I would recommend that students and physicians connect over social media to be less isolated.
What do you wish I had asked you? [36:01]
I do want to plug the people that make up my community. Without the really talented physicians in the community it couldn’t have been the same, so I want to thank them.
• The Reapplicants Guide to Medical School Acceptance, a webinar
• Doctors on Social Media AKA SoMeDocs
• Dr. Corriel
• Dr. Corriel on Instragram
• Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting Services
• Financial Planning for Physicians, Med Students, and Premeds
• Life of a Former Med Student, Now Physician
• Taboo No More: Depression & Burnout in the Medical Field
• Meet Dr. Nadia Afridi, Plastic Surgeon, Recent Columbia EMBA, and Mom
• Med School Uncensored: A Realistic Perspective on Medical Training