“Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously. No Physician Has Healed Anything; The Body Heals Itself.”
With Dr. Paramjit “Romi” Chopra
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Paramjit “Romi” Chopra, Founder and CEO of the Midwest Institute for Minimally Invasive Therapies. After becoming a physician at the mere age of 23 in India, he continued his fellowship at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He prides himself in his integration of western medicine with his holistic, eastern roots.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path as a doctor or healer?
When I got out of medical school at the age of 17 I realized that I liked people and I wanted to solve their problems. I hated the idea of having someone suffer, so I was always finding a way to help people heal and feel better. I gravitated to it. Much like any other 17-year-old, I didn’t think of much specifically, and instead let life take me where I was meant to go.
How have your personal challenges informed your career path?
My biggest challenge was getting to know not only myself, but how other people think and tick. I struggled with learning how to understand myself, other people, and adding values to their lives.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other physicians to help their patients to thrive?
- Don’t take yourself too seriously: no physician has healed anything; the body heals itself. We are merely the catalyst to help humans heal.
- High tech is here to stay, but mankind has not changed. The human feelings have not changed since we started to walk the earth. We have a spirit, mind, and body. Do not just focus on the body but focus on how the person feels as a whole. It is all interconnected. We feel before we think, so we have to connect to the patient’s feelings. The mind, the body and the spirit all have to heal together. It’s not about sitting down and praying, it’s about understanding how people see and what works for them.
- In today’s healthcare and the age of consumerism we want to be able to do things better, faster and cheaper. You always want a better outcome, faster than anybody else, and to make sure it’s cost effective. High tech is here, but when patients are being taken into a hospital, they’re spending a lot of money on being treated, but what happens when they go home? You have to think of the entire patient experience all the way to how it impacts their lives, not just how it is in your hospital or your office.
- Stay grounded.
- Continuously learn. If you’re standing still you’re losing ground. We must continuously be learning to find ways to add value to people’s lives while everything is changing around you. It is a process of discovering what we go through and to learn everything we can about life. At the end of the day it all comes down to one lesson: Preserve life and make it better.
Social media and reality TV create a venue for people to share their personal stories. Do you think more transparency about your personal story can help or harm your field of work? Can you explain?
I think full transparency about personal story can help you work. Unfortunately, they say that there is one place where life is perfect, vacations are the most beautiful, families are the happiest, and marriages are perfect; that’s called Facebook. In real life, it’s different. People have an online life, and people have a real life. People don’t want their real life invaded, but they want people to think good of them, so if you think about it, people don’t always put everything real on Facebook, or social media in general. Or they put what they want others to know about them. So, transparency is really good if you can make it really real, vs. just want you want to show people. That is the most important part. Social media has been fantastic in collecting so many people so fast, at a very personal level. In healthcare, that really makes it better in the sense that you can be suffering through something and think you’re the only one suffering when the human conditions shows that somebody else has been through this as well. When you connect with somebody globally, you could meet somebody on the other side of the globe who will help make your life better. That is the power of all social media and TV. If it’s just for entertainment purpose, I’ve seen shows where they just talk about what entertains; they only show the bizarre, they only show what makes them the traffic hero. Ultimately, you just want to interact with another human being and that’s why face to face is good, but social media also gives a certain distance and safety that people can get addicted to, and then they miss the real thing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?
I have so many of them! When I was young and was climbing the so-called ladder of success, I thought about the need to succeed and looked at who was ahead of me and what they were doing. I was one of the youngest chairmen of my department and an associate professor and in that space, I was up on the ladder. Then I realized that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. So, my lesson in life was to know your purpose. Know where it is, know that it’s your vision and it’s where you should be going. I learned that if you’re a bird, you want to fly, if you’re a fish you want to swim, versus if you’re a white-water fish you want to swim in the river. Humans have all these choices, but nobody tells us that we have to figure it out. The life lesson for me was that you’re climbing the ladder of success. I’ve reached some very significant achievements in life, but I realized that I was very unhappy. I realized that my true purpose was taking care of people, adding value to their lives, teaching and building a world class organization etc. I started going up the ladder leaning against that wall, and now I feel happy and fulfilled doing it. The life lesson here is “Discover yourself, explore your purpose, and enjoy the journey, not just the outcome.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
That movement really would be to think in terms of helping people lead healthy lives and successful lives, success being fulfilling your God-given potential. I’d start a movement of understanding, and not just spending more money and making healthcare a huge money machine. Healthcare, on a global basis, should be affordable and allow for us to connect with each other to create a way to make it better, faster, cheaper, and let people lead long and healthy lives.