During the first year of medical school, biomedical students learn to cut open and dissect the human heart, exploring its previously unseen chambers. Intensive as the training of a physician is, there is need for more discussion of open-heartedness, the quality of compassion and kindness that deepens human connection. The Open-Hearted MD dialogues explore the opening of our own hearts to further strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.
Topics include themes integral to healing practices such as Compassion, Gratitude, and Humor.
In 2019, a group of medical students from Tulane University met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. They asked His Holiness: “What makes a good doctor?” His answer was simple: “Kindness.” He went on to describe how, no matter how smart or technically skilled his own physicians are, the most important qualities that make him comfortable in their presence are their compassionate nature and their smile.
The students and their physician mentor, Dr. Rebekah Byrne, were so inspired by their meeting with His Holiness that they have worked together with many dedicated individuals and sponsors to create The Open-Hearted MD as a resource for healthcare professionals and to stimulate discussion on the healing encounter.
Tulane medical students with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in 2019
This project is a community-engaged initiative sponsored by the Mellon Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship at Tulane University. Funds and donations will support the Louisiana Himalaya Association and its India-based partner, Lha Charitable Trust, among the largest Tibetan social work institutes based in Dharamsala, India.
Erika Bennett is a medical student at Tulane University School of Medicine applying for residency training in Family Medicine.
Dara Bramson is a PhD student in anthropology and Mellon Graduate Fellow in Community-Engaged Scholarship at Tulane University.
Dr. Rebekah Byrne is a family physician with specialization in integrative medicine and adjunct at Tulane University School of Medicine, where she also serves as a teacher and mentor to medical students.
Neil Guidry is co-founder and president of the Louisiana Himalaya Association.
Timothy Knowlton is a medical student at Tulane University School of Medicine applying for residency training in Emergency Medicine.
Moira Wood is a medical student at Tulane University School of Medicine, and she understands medicine as her chosen vocation within the field of humanities.
Sound Design & Featured Music
Sound design, theme music and all musical interludes featured in episodes are original recordings written and performed by Timothy Knowlton.