I am as nervous about writing this as I was when I first started my YouTube channel.
Let me take you back to when I first decided to pursue medicine; I was a senior in high school, deciding between international business school or a pre-med degree. I was never one of those docs who had dreamed about becoming a doctor since I could first babble, and for a long time, this made me feel like a fraud. I thought of myself as some odd nomad who was not part of the exclusive and original “I knew I would be a doctor by the age of 4 years” club. With some consolation, however, I always knew I would help and be of service to others, and if I could, engage in philanthropic work. I had imagined that if I didn’t choose medicine right now, it would be very difficult to enter later. Incidentally, what I have learned from those entering medicine after age 30 has been significant. Often these students had experienced life outside of school and were prepared and focused on starting medicine with what seemed to be a better understanding of the depth and sacrifice that medicine would require from them.
The following years were blessedly and luckily, relatively uneventful, and gap-less as I cruised through undergrad, medical school, residency, and ultimately fellowship.
I learned the most amazing things and gained proficiencies that sometimes have me shocked that I can skillfully perform them. I was gifted with the most accomplished teachers at the best of institutions with some of the most amazing patients over the years whose presence culminated in allowing me to be the doctor I am today.
Something was missing. There somehow persisted a constant gnawing at the back of my neck that I could just not shake. I somehow had successfully managed to ignore and suppress what I now know to be the ever so powerful inner whisper. Yes, that whisper Oprah keeps on talking about. So, after reflection, an amazing life coach, and discussions with friends and family, I heard what my whisper was trying to tell me. I, Tanaka Dune, full of flaws, gifted with the opportunity to become a urogynecologist, was also a speaker who needed to disseminate information widely.
The moment I voiced my whisper, the following ideas emerged.
Firstly, I was bothered by the repeated presentation of patients with relatively similar issues who felt that only they were experiencing that issue. Within this, I existentially wondered, how it was possible that I could hold so much information about others’ bodies in my head whilst only given an “x” amount of time to relay some of the more common and general information back to my patient in a clear and evidence-based research manner. The information seemed to be cloistered and accessible only to those “in the know” (largely us in medicine). Like “research,” oh yes, that ever-elusive “research” that is always seemingly being conducted somewhere by scientists in tall majestic well-funded buildings, was somehow diluted and distorted within the infamous “Dr. Google” search. Patients had to fend for themselves.
Secondly, I often felt the media was full of the worst or the best of stories, with fewer options giving voice to “the ordinary.” To me, there are a whole lot more “ordinary” people in this world, with their own experiences, who were just as interesting in their own right. I felt the urge to give a voice to those in the middle (i.e., no fantastic celebrity or tragedy). I have come across a multitude of amazing people who will likely never be covered by the media. There is a lot to learn from the experience of becoming a clinical psychologist like Dr. Tinashe Dune, or the path and decisions my life coach made allowing her to leave medicine and become a physician coach. Note, this is certainly not limited to physicians or doctors. I just need to start somewhere.
So one would think that upon realizing all of the above, and finally acknowledging my whisper, that I would act and take immediate advantage of YouTube: the modern-day way of disseminating information without depending on the hope of being “picked up” by traditional media.
I did not act, though. I thought I could satisfy my whisper by publishing even more research papers and participating in more clinical one-on-one conversations. To be completely honest, I was scared. I had filled my head with the idea that I needed special equipment, pre-written scripts, and scheduled content plans. I also was scared of the likely non-existent “fine-line” between media and being perceived as legitimate in medicine. It is still scary to me that no one that I know specifically, in my field, was doing this with me. I knew I had to let these fears go.
You know, one day that whisper had it, grew bold and screamed.
By the time I “woke up,” it was February 2020, and the world was shaken. I chose to persevere and placed my whisper in the forefront. One random day, I started my channel, seemingly, out of the blue, on a late February day. I literally jumped out of my head, and with my fears in hand, posted my first video. (And yes: It was low budget and only 12 seconds long.)
Heck, I lived through it. And so, I will try my best to disseminate information and provide a platform for the voices in the middle. I know it won’t be perfect, but I will do it, and I will do it scared.
Tanaka Dune is an urogynecology physician and can be reached on YouTube.
Image credit: Tanaka Dune