‘Healthcare Avenger’ and Social Influencer ZDogg MD to Keynote AAPA 2021
Conference is a Way to Get Together and Get Inspired
October 26, 2020
Zubin Damania, MD, known to his fans as ZDoggMD, will headline the general session at AAPA 2021 in Philadelphia to talk about the future of healthcare and the need to address clinician burnout. This will be a return visit to speak to PAs; he also served as the keynote speaker at AAPA 2017 in Las Vegas.
Damania, an internist trained at University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, worked as a hospitalist at Stanford for 10 years. There, he says he experienced “our dysfunctional healthcare system” firsthand.
“As a way to address my own burnout and find a voice, I started producing videos and live shows under the pseudonym ‘ZDoggMD’ that have since gone epidemically viral. This launched a grassroots movement — nearly a billion views and a passionate tribe dedicated to improving healthcare for everyone.”
In a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, reporter Thomas Buckley labeled Damania a “health-care avenger” and “one of a growing number of physicians turned online influencers able to communicate compellingly to viewers who might otherwise fall prey to pseudoscience.”
Register for AAPA 2021
Damania left Stanford in 2012 to start Turntable Health, a team-based preventive-care clinic in Las Vegas, which was backed by the late Tony Hsieh, the former chief executive officer of online clothier Zappos.com LLC. The clinics closed in mid-2017 and Damania moved back to California to launch The ZDoggMD Show and continue evangelizing for change.
Feeding the ZPac Tribe
He calls his more than two million Facebook followers the ZPac. Asked what led to public speaking and use of social media to convey his messages, Damania says, “I’ve always been fascinated by teaching and when I was in medical school at UCSF I taught an MCAT prep class at UC Berkley. These kids were really smart, and they were only about a year younger than me. So, to get comfortable, I really had to practice, learn how to teach, stand up in front of an audience, and disarm them with humor. Doing that two-hour lecture three times a day, three days a week gave me the experience to approach some level of mastery with public speaking. And social media was just an extension of that desire to teach and to connect with as many people as I could.”
On Facebook, he does almost daily daily shows and has a “Supporter Tribe” discussion group where he says, “We talk about fixing medicine, blow off steam, and have a really good time.”
Having a voice in healthcare
“I think that people have followed our tribe or have been a part of our tribe simply because they want to have a voice in a system where they are often voiceless,” Damania says. “And finding people who may disagree on how we get there but all agree on where we need to go is very powerful. I think another reason two million people follow us on Facebook is that we have something called communalization of pain, where we put our suffering out there, and others can go, ‘Oh, I’m going through the same thing, I’m not alone, I’m not isolated,’ and that really goes a long way to lifting that sense of burnout that people are suffering.”
Damania focuses on volunteer teaching as clinical faculty at University of Nevada Las Vegas while going full-time ZDoggMD. His goal is to “sow the soil so that Health 3.0 can grow everywhere.”
“The pandemic has actually shown us how vulnerable we are in a fee-for-service model where we don’t have a team to help us. So team-based relationship-driven care where we paid to do the right thing for patients and everyone practices at the top of their training is absolutely starting to emerge more and more as a necessity in the face of the pandemic and beyond.”
More connected and purpose-driven healthcare system
Damania will talk about how the healthcare system can be more connected and purpose driven. “I really want to focus on how we can change our own way of being in the world, our own behaviors and ways of interacting with others, that will then emerge as a bigger structure of a better healthcare system for everybody.”
Why does he think it important for PAs to attend AAPA 2021?
“These conferences are a crucial way to get your tribe together and exchange ideas and get inspired. So, you will pick up a couple of gems that you’ll take back to your practice that will change the way you think. And these conferences are the catalysts to make that happen. Where else can you learn from the collective wisdom of thousands of PAs around the country and around the world? I think that they’re essential for personal and professional growth and to transform systems.”