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Spoken Word Medical Artist – Jamie Katuna


Jamie Katuna is an absolutely awe-inspiring spoken word medical artist. She takes on controversial topics and issues in the healthcare space and creates dialogue through this medium. Her dream is to make healthcare a better place for all by challenging the status quo. Of note, she has been featured on the popular physician blog, and her videos have become so viral that she has already reached millions. Please listen in to this inspiring medical student, check out her links below, and get a look at the many great points of discussion in the notes section.


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Example Video: “Doctors Get Paid Way Too Much, Right?”



-Played College basketball

-Took a defer year, between college and medical school

-Touro Osteopathic medicine

unique situation, don’t normally hear about a defer year

-Able to dive into what she wants to do this year


How did you decide to take a year off?

-had an opportunity to go to Tanzania

-invited on the trip and the school allowed her to attend

-wanted some time in between to recollect alongside taking the trip


How did the school feel about taking the year off? 

-They were great about it

-submitted a formal request with the school and they granted it

-not too much push back

-The school wants to take care of students

message: medical students – you don’t have to do things in a linear format

-strength and conditioning coach, parents, many examples of people taking time off

-many unique and variable paths, “create your own experience”

-“medical school will always be there”


Why medical school? 

-both parents are physicians

-dad created business with neurointeroperative monitoring

-mom does leadership consulting with hospitals

medical degree opens doors

-a great means to create a lot of change

-obsessed with health and fitness

There plenty of people don’t feel passionate about the path

“feels necessary” instead of actually wanting to do it

Great Point: at what point in your life will you do what you want to do?


What are your current projects?

-She creates specific art of combining medicine with spoken word and rap

-She creates healthcare topics on an accessible platform

– Already creating change through opinions and voice

Approaches something calculated in an artistic way

-her approach: how do you get information from obscure journals into news feeds of people effected by the healthcare system

Take what you love and combine it with information you are learning 

Story of 15 year old – already cutting out classes to be a medical student, what else can you bring to the table? Keep your extracurricular and works that you love. 

Energy comes when you do what you love


What is your vision in medicine, what do you hope to create? 

-short answer: “the best case scenario”

-long answer: There are lots of details, I will get stumped on. I want more integrative care, more primary care, less tertiary care. I want a masters in public health to see physician’s role in policy and planning take place.

-I want to create the best-case scenario – what would the ultimate vision be for this specific niche


What have you heard about medical culture so far 

-draining, demeaning

-There’s a hierarchy

-A student is the bottom of the totem poll

-Burnout is a word of abuse

-Suicide epidemic with students and physicians

-The healthcare system is unhealthy which is a paradox


How are you going to protect yourself in an environment like this?

-Having all of Pamela Wible’s teachings


-Lots of people have given her support in her work

-Videos and projects energize her

-This is exactly what I want to be doing

-In my downtime this is what I want to do any way

The work will sustain itself because I love it.

-If you feel resistance when you are doing something – it is draining by nature

-if you feel pulled to something – it’s calling you – it is energizing. 

-I’m being pulled by these projects to help people

Healthy for people to dive into their creative projects


What would you tell a younger self about the journey and getting started?

-I was so lucky, my parents would read articles and discuss with me

embrace the creative side of me sooner

-fell victim to mindset of – “just make sure application looks good”

-really dive deep down inside and find what makes you excited and find weird creative projects

dive into creativity…but what usually stops us,  is fear…


On the topic of fear

-What if people don’t like it?

-When you do something for others, then fear plays a role

-but if the work is self-sustaining and self-energizing, it is impervious to outside perception

-my sister has a popular blog:

-One of her articles: “Just [effing] start”

-just decided to work on her projects

-just by starting and putting it out there – it has had amazing impacts

-fear does not come into consciousness when you are so in alignment with what you want to be doing

-Medical students begin to be afraid of their voice, people get afraid of making mistakes


How do you deal with judgment (paraphrased)

-Silver lining: I am creating dialogue

-if someone hates it, I learn a new perspective

-in medicine there is a right and wrong answer

-Creative works are discussion based and have an opinion

-I discuss things before I release it, I want to get a feel of opinions before I post something

-Once it’s out there I have to be vulnerable and courageous and accept criticism

I want to highlight: mentorship – ask yourself who’s already doing it? – Study what works. Literal mentors to speak to – check/critique your work. 

if you know one person likes it, there’s going to be more


Video on burnout

-the term is abusive in itself

-brutal to administration

-feedback was astounding, resonated strongly

-People saying: “this is exactly what I’ve tried to say for thirty years”

the only way to find out if it works is doing it first, finding out after.


Acceptance you can fail

if you aren’t failing, you aren’t learning

example: she created a video on gun use and medicine

-had many individuals who hated the video – people calling her a failure

-reframe the dislike to “debate and discussion”

Saying things that are controversial isn’t bad, the controversial stuff is what we should be talking about. Where do we meet in our knowledge? 

-Video was most successful because it pissed people off, when you create an emotion in someone… they are thinking about your video.

-Change in failure: take failure and use it as fuel, I’m excited I do not know things, let’s learn more. Shift the dialogue


What message do you have to younger pre-medical students and to early medical students?

-Premeds: dive into “is this what you love?” Yes? Everyone has good grades and volunteer work. What makes you different, creative projects, extracurricular, etc.

– To the Early Medical Students: I don’t know how to message these people, it’s like voicing my opinion upwards, not sure if I’m allowed to do that. (I highlighted this point because I do think it’s an interesting question. Are younger students allowed to critique those ahead of them? How do people feel about this subject?)

-Change the mindset of your dialogue: What is a road block and what is an opportunity? instead of being overcome by the system, look at the way the system is faulty [if you are upset by it] and be an agent of change and get involved in leadership.


How would you tell someone to work on their vision?

-I would ask people what they do when they don’t think anyone is going to see it

-“some people sing in the shower”, “some people write in their journals”, “some people draw or make graphic design” -> That’s the passion

-hone in on those skills and “just effing start”

-everyone has that thing that they love that they are not supposed to be doing in medicine, but that’s exactly what you should be doing

be okay with not being ready and take the first step

-when you are getting navigation guidelines – you don’t get the next step until you take the first step


How would you imagine the perfect or ideal medical training

Centered on students and individualize students

-Teach entrepreneurship in medicine

-Teach leadership

-Would promote creativity

-Medicine should be hard, but it doesn’t have to come with frustrations, bullying, or hazing

-Things can be difficult but fulfilling -> we are all in this together 

-Doesn’t feel like competition… feels like teamwork and collaboration, entrepreneurship and leadership

-There are certain aspects of medicine that make me feel terrible, so it means the things I must work on are so much more powerful

Reframe challenges into positive experiences for change


What is happiness to you?

fulfillment, helping other people, doing what you love



What is the best advice you’ve received from a mentor

-“Don’t worry about sounding too idealistic or dumb, stick to what you are doing, you are going to be a voice for your millennial physicians, and while older generations can be cynical or patronizing… don’t let it distract from your focus and why you are doing this. Your generation is going to be the one that transforms healthcare because it has no other choice”.

-millennials are really the difference, they are the change agents

We base leaders off of age and experience but the truth is the truth. No matter where you are at in your position, you need to humble yourself and know there is something to learn.


Any favorite books, bloggers, or materials that have inspired you?

-Pamela Wible – she’s a positive voice for change and is awesome – doctor Pamela Wible is a good place to start (

->Spoke to me for an hour or an hour and-a-half when I reached out to her

->She didn’t have to make a phone call with you, that was in total alignment with her vision

-Zdogg MD -> he has really great ideas and ted talks on new changes in medicine (

-Dr. Mark Shapiro – explore the space podcast (

-Dr. Paddy Barrett – Doctor paradox (

-Silly but informative show – Doctor I am Sorry


Any significant conflict in your life that helped you improve as a person 

-broke her left foot 3 times in basketball

-whole friend circle is her team, so it was a difficult experience to adjust

Tried to come back to fast before things were healed

-heal myself before I get back into basketball and learning that lesson. Learn to take care of my body.

-Learned how to become a support through this experience

-There is an opportunity in every challenge

Important to have a reframe to create the positive out of situations: finding the silver lining (a common theme in happy people)


How do you think it feels when something isn’t cultivating health but is injuring you? The example being going into medicine and working in something you do not love

-What did you do when constantly injured yourself

-Had to look at my values, I thought my whole identity was playing again

-What I needed to do was reidentify my identity


How do you cultivate a rest time [into medicine]?

-pushing and pushing it [Jamie’s ankle injury], kept me out for longer

-by trying to stay in the game, I was kept out of the game

-if I said, I need to rest, I need to take a step back, then I could have come back in a lot sooner

-in medicine: pushing pushing pushing, doing something you don’t like, feeling burnt out… this isn’t sustainable. Taking a step back, reidentify your values and be able to reenter the game again.