When Danielle Ofri isn’t seeing patients at Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the country, she’s writing about medicine and the doctor-patient connection for the New York Times, Slate Magazine and other publications. She’s founder and editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review, the first literary journal to arise in a medical center. She is on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. Ofri is the author of five books about the world of medicine including What Doctors Feel, Medicine in Translation, Incidental Findings, and Singular Intimacies: Becoming a Doctor at Bellevue. Her newest book is “What Patients Say; What Doctors Hear.”
She has given TED talks on Deconstructing Perfection and Fear: A Necessary Emotion, and has also performed stories for the Moth. She is featured in the upcoming documentary: “Why Doctors Write.” Ofri lives with her family and the forever challenges of the cello in a singularly intimate Manhattan-sized apartment. Several unfinished novels in various states of disrepair reside under the bed, gathering prime New York City real-estate dust. She strives for a serene, uncluttered life of Zen, but lives with three teenagers instead.
My Goal of the Day: to work hard but to make it meaningful.
My Thought of the Day: Even when I feel most harried and rushed, I try to remember that for each patient this visit is so important. They may have been waiting weeks or even months for it, so even if I’m feeling besieged by the schedule, I try to keep in mind that it’s very different for the patient.
My Action of the Day: take a few minutes at the beginning of the visit for “full-frontal listening.”—direct eye contact, no computer, really listen.
My Tip of the Day: keep WQXR on in the background. Everyone is frazzled in medical world—doctors and patients alike. Good music is like a gummy vitamin for everyone.
My Pic of the Day:
This is my kids’ favorite picture that shows “all the kids” in the family. Sadly, we lost our sweet Juliet after 17 years, but this is still a favorite picture.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
I love the endless opportunities for people-watching. I love ambling through different neighborhoods and imagining what it might be like to live in different buildings. I never get bored in New York City.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
For breakfast, I like to have homemade whole-wheat sourdough bread. (I don’t cook too much. Baking bread is the one thing I really enjoy…)
What are you doing at:
6:30 AM – Already up and showered. Trying to claw three teenagers out of bed. Heavy machinery required!
10:00 AM – seeing patients at Bellevue Hospital
12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal:
Lunch? Are you kidding? I haven’t had time for lunch in decades! I rely on the bag of almonds and dried figs in my drawer. Thank god for Kind Bars!
6:00 PM - having dinner with my 3 kids. They’re teenagers—so not always thrilled to join me, but I try anyway!!
9:00 PM - practicing cello. My favorite time of the day. I’m currently working on the Brahms F-major sonata and the third suite of Bach’s unaccompanied suites. Focusing on music is the complete Zen opposite of life in the hospital. (My kids, of course, plug in their headphones.)
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
On a good day I’ll make an orange-strawberry-banana-spinach smoothie and sip that throughout the morning. On the rest of the days, it’s water—but only if I can remember.
Most used App?
BBC Radio App. To keep my sanity, I need to hear what’s going on outside our little bubble. Plus, I can keep up to date with the Pakistani Cricket team.
What should everyone try at least once?
Living abroad for a year. When our first two kids were toddlers, we lived in Costa Rica for a year (the third was born there). Seven years later, when they were in grade school, we lived in Israel for a year. While I love visiting other places, nothing compares to living there for a year and having a chance to experience what life is like. Figuring out how to drive places in Costa Rica, for example, was wild. There are no street signs. But that doesn’t really matter because there are no street names! We spent a very healthy amount of time being lost.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
New York City, or any wonderful city while traveling. I can wander for hours just people-watching and checking out the local neighborhoods. Extra points for finding good vegetarian food in unlikely places.