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December 19, 2022 52 min

Ever wonder what doctors say about their patients when they think no one can hear? Dr. Rana Awdish doesn’t have to wonder - as a patient, she overheard a lot of distressing things. Her experience led her to change how medical providers speak about - and to - their patients, spreading compassion through communication (which we know is a mission dear to my heart). Listen in to hear Dr. Awdish’s take on the pressure on healthcare workers, too. 


“I've come to know that people call you a hero when they're going to force you to betray yourself, and that that is a signal that you are being sent into a situation that will not leave you whole.” - Dr. Rana Awdish


In this episode we cover: 


  • The “two educations” of Dr. Awdish - med school and a life threatening illness
  • Why miscommunication is such a dangerous medical practice
  • The well-intentioned, but wrong approach of trying to help people survive a violation of their values and their beliefs by reminding them of their strengths
  • Being present is only the first step - validation is where the real healing begins
  • Why compassionate communication helps doctors - maybe even more than it helps patients 
  • The very cool CLEAR program - it uses trained actors to help doctors and medical providers learn how to connect with patients going through some of the hardest times of their lives

Content note: mention of life threatening illness, pregnancy loss, and the medical industry.


Notable quotes: 

“The work is to grow a heart that can hold all of it, even now. Even this.” - Dr. Rana Awdish


“The best medicine in the world doesn't work on the wrong story - so you better know your patient's story.” - Dr. Rana Awdish, citing Jay Baruch’s work in narrative medicine

About our guest:


Dr. Rana Awdish is a critical care physician operating on the front lines during COVID-19 at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI. Her own serious illness in 2008 has informed her belief in the power of compassion, sacred listening, and community. As medical director of the Care Experience for the Henry Ford Healthcare System, she is training staff to practice empathy in critical care. Find her book, In Shock: My journey from death to recovery and the redemptive power of hope, at 

Additional resources:

Read “restoration in the aftermath” from Dr. Awdish here 

Read “the shape of the shore” here

Creative Writing as a Medical Instrument - paper by Jay Baruch, cited by Dr. Awdish

Get in touch:

Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Here After with Megan Devine. Tune in, subscribe, leave a review, send in your questions, and share the show with everyone you know. Together, we can make things better, even when they can’t be made right. 


Have a question, comment, or a topic you’d like us to cover? call us at (323) 643-3768 or visit


For more information, including clinical training and consulting, visit us at


For grief support & education, follow us at @refugeingrief on IG, FB, TW, and @hereafterpod on TT


Check out Megan’s best-selling books - It’s Okay That You're Not Okay and How to Carry What Can’t Be Fixed

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