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Interview with Dr. Noam Raiter

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

📷 Dr. Noam Raiter

Journalist: Anam Biabani

Anam Biabani: Hello and welcome back to Sci-Section. I'm your journalist Anam for the Sci-Section radio show broadcasted on CFMU 93.3 FM radio station. We are here today with Dr. Noam Raiter, a social media content creator, the founder of inclusive health collection, a podcast host for you are not too busy (Which by the way you guys should all check out) and a recent medical school graduate. Thank you so much for joining us today!

Dr. Noam Raiter: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here and to jump into this conversation.

Anam Biabani: So to get us started, give us a little introduction of who you are your education, your career background, and maybe just on a little fact about what you appreciate most about it.

Dr. Noam Raiter: So, my name is Noam. I'm 24 years old. I'm currently a first year family medicine resident. I just graduated from McMaster medical school last year. So big soft spot in my heart for Mac. Within medicine, I'm super passionate about student wellness, lifestyle medicine, preventative medicine, as well as gender equity. Those are kinds of things I like to talk about. And aside from medical school, like you mentioned, I'm also a social media content creator - a journey I started while in medical school wanting to document more of my realistic life as a medical student, but also importantly, my life outside of it, and always promoting balance and self care. And what I appreciate most about combining both of these careers are the opportunity to chat with people like you and to hear that just sharing my everyday journey can help someone else also realize the importance of prioritizing their own wellness and mental health. And I can't wait to do that both through content creation, but also for my future patients as well.

Anam Biabani: That is amazing to hear. So we're gonna get on to our questions now. So the first question, if there were three changes you could make to the healthcare industry, what would those be? And why?

Dr. Noam Raiter Definitely such a good question. And obviously, I am in the healthcare system. So I do love it. And I think it's such an incredible system to be a part of and so rewarding. But I think we'd also be doing ourselves a disservice if we weren't to also highlight the gaps and the flaws in the system and always be open to changing things, even if it's just the way that it's been done for so many years.

The first one's kind of broad, and I think it starts like way before someone even gets to the healthcare system. And that's I wish that we had more education and resources available to people way before they need to see a doctor like at elementary school high school. And I wish I learned more about nutrition and especially mental health, I feel like is a huge one that I didn't really hear talked about when I was younger. And everything else in between, I just wish we could have more accessibility for everybody to medical education in some sort of regard. So they can be active participants in their own health. It's realizing the healthcare system expands way beyond doctors doors.

I think the next one is a bit more about the medical system in terms of the medical education system and what it's like to be a part of that. And I think it's just increasing vulnerability. I think a huge part of kind of like the Hidden Curriculum culture in medicine is that you need to always be perfect and always be on and have no flaws, whether that's in your work as a medical student, slash doctor or flaws, as in in your life personally and be dealing with things and these conversations are starting and I feel like especially with the pandemic, and unfortunately, so many people having hardships during that time, it increased these conversations. But there's still such a far way to go. And unfortunately, burnout and depression and unfortunately suicide as well as way higher in the medical medical professionals than in the general population. And we need to also take care of people who are providing health care to our patients. So there's increasing vulnerability and not being afraid to be authentic and to admit your flaws I think can really help other people feel seen.

And the last one, kind of on the scope, but a little bit different is I find that the medical system can be a little bit rigid sometimes. Obviously, evidence based medicine is so important and following guidelines and following science based research. But I feel like in turn this can translate to also people being a bit resistant to change and the medical system has been the way it is for so many years and it takes so long for us to see changes in how it runs. So I wish there was just a little bit more acceptance and openness to people who have different interests or different backgrounds or see things from a new perspective, because often if you just kind of take the time to listen and have those conversations, even if you may not agree, and the system might not change exactly in that way, I think it would have a lot of positive impact in general. But yeah, those are kind of vague. But I feel like they they lead into a lot of parts of the system as well.

Anam Biabani: Everything you said, I think it all integrates together every question, every response connects to each other. And I think your main focus around that was just having a more focus on just all aspects of an individual's identity and all aspects of a person's life, especially their wellness and mental health, because we don't realize how important that is, especially as students I know so many people don't realize the importance of wellness over academics. So how do you think we could better integrate a focus on wellness and mental health, especially in educational systems, such as medical schools, just regular elementary and middle schools, universities and other other educational atmospheres?

Dr. Noam Raiter: Yeah, I think this one's twofold. So I have one answer, and then I'll kind of contradict it. Yeah. But the first one is not making it optional, I think, especially in medicine. But I think this expands to really, anyone who's pursuing any form of like undergraduate education or graduate education, there's just this culture in academia, of working as hard as you can see, if you tell someone, oh, you could take the day off, or you could leave early, or you could go have your lunch break, they might not take it if the person next to them isn't going to take it either. And they're just thinking, Oh, am I going to look like I'm lazy, quote, unquote, for doing not enough, something I saw all the time in medical school, especially with some of my peers who are pursuing more quote, unquote, competitive specialties are not quote, unquote, they are more competitive. But the cultures are so a little bit different. And I just wish it wasn't an option. I wish it was just a basic understanding of this has to come first, sleep, nutrition, wellness, stress management, all of that, that comes first. And everything else comes later. Because you can't be the best version of yourself, for yourself, or the people around you for your patients, if you aren't kind of fulfilling those basic needs first. But what I said kind of contradicts to that as well as I think the part of mandatory wellness that's been integrated into education is these mandatory lectures that we have to attend or ways that they tell us that this is the way to maintain your wellness, whether that's telling us to write journal reflections, or to meditate and those things are great and work for so many people. But wellness looks different to everyone.

And sometimes wellness is also just eating a pint of ice cream and watching a movie with your friends. And that's okay, too. It's not always going to that workout class and meditating for an hour.

So making wellness mandatory, but also when people interpret that for themselves, just providing them the tools to find out what works for them along the way.

Anam Biabani: I agree with everything there. And I also sometimes think people take wellness as a one time thing. So as something that like one day out of the week, you spend it just relaxing and every other day you work hard. I think it's something that you need to do every single day and integrate it into every little bit of your life. So this last question is a little bit different. What fascinates you most about science? And why?

Dr. Noam Raiter: Definitely, I mean, I've pursued many years of science education. So I must love it. And I think there's many reasons, but I think the biggest one is, it's so it's such a huge privilege to be able to know, I guess, in my case, how the human body works. But I mean, even when I think back to when I was an undergrad taking chemistry and physics, as well, and all of that, and just being able to look at things around me and know how they work and apply that to anything else in my life for help, whether it's my parents, or my grandparents or my friends who don't have that education, help them understand it as well. I think that's such a huge privilege. But I think more importantly, the fact that there's always more to learn. And I think the most humbling part of science is that we know nothing, when we really think about how much there is to know especially when it comes to the human body. And not only the human body as a whole but even patient to patient, every encounter is going to be different. Everyone's body is going to be different. And we're just scratching the surface of the whole understanding of bio individuality and medicine. So I think it's just the ability to always learn and it kind of ties back into what I first add, I think something I really value is just always keeping an open mind and always being modest in what you know and what you can learn from every situation. And I think science lends really well to that. I think the culture just needs to support that as well.

Anam Biabani: So, to end off the day, I'm going to ask you one last question, what is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Dr. Noam Raiter: Don't be afraid to do things differently. And with that, I think one piece of advice that honestly changed the whole like trajectory of the past few years of my life was to only take advice from people whose lives you would want to trade places with, because there are a lot of very successful and very intelligent people that you will meet in your life, and it has nothing against them. But you don't have to want to be like them or lead their exact life. And they might not want your life either or the life that you want for yourself. So

take advice, listen to it, genuinely take what you need from it, but you don't have to follow it to the tee. And just kind of create your own path. You don't have to follow anyone else's.

Anam Biabani: That's amazing. Thank you so much for joining us today. It was amazing to hear about your career perspectives and life journey, the work you were doing today is so relevant and important. And I'm excited to see what comes next.


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