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The doctor who walked away | Maria Phalime | TEDxJohannesburg

Translator: Beatriz dos Santos Morimoto
Reviewer: Denise RQ I’ll never forget that Saturday night. I was working at a Community Health Center in the sprawling Cape Town township
of Khayelitsha. I was on call and, typically
for a Saturday night, it was hectic. I worked with another doctor, and together we saw dozens of patients
through the course of the night. Most of them were drunk
and injured in some way. Most of these injuries
weren’t very serious. There were stabbings, beatings, some superficial gun shot wounds. All that these patients required
after we’d assess them was pain relief, and dressings,
or stitches to their wounds. Admittedly, there were some serious cases. We’d be alerted to them by the sound of a stretcher being wheeled
at high speed down the corridor, and my colleague and I would drop
whatever we were doing to attend to them. Once we’d stabilize them,
we’d then refer them on to secondary and tertiary level hospitals
for further management. We couldn’t save a few of these cases. One of the patients
that we did manage to stabilize was a man in his early thirties. He was brought in at around three in the morning
with a stab wound to his back. The knife had penetrated quite deeply into the fleshing muscle
just below his right shoulder blade and he bled profusely. Our priority on first seeing him was to stop the bleeding
and to rehydrate him. It was particularly important
to rehydrate him because he was extremely drunk, so chances [were] he was already
dehydrated before his injury. After we’d stabilized him,
I prepared his referral notes and I made arrangements for an ambulance to take him to a secondary level hospital, where he would need to be seen
by the surgeons there to repair his wound. I saw other patients
after that particular patient, and by morning
I was getting ready to go home. That’s when I heard him
in the room next to mine. He was shouting at one
of the nurses and swearing at her. “I have been left here to die,”
he kept shouting, and he didn’t seem to believer her when she told him
that he’d already been attended to. So I went to intervene. I tried to talk some sense into him. I even showed him where I’d made
my notes in his folder. But he was having none of it,
he continued to shout and swear, so I walked away to finish off
my handover notes. I’d forgotten all about that patient when I left the hospital
later that morning. My mind was on getting home, taking a shower,
and going straight to bed. But just as I was driving out
of the hospital gates, I saw him again. He was standing across the road,
trying to wave down a taxi. He wasn’t wearing a top, and the dressing that we’d applied
to his wound was soaked with blood. He’d clearly just stormed out
of the hospital in a huff. My initial instinct was to go to him because he really needed
to be in hospital. But I didn’t do that. Instead, I sat in my car
and watched from a distance. I watched as taxi after taxi
passed without stopping, and each time he would shout after it
and wave his arms frantically. Eventually, a taxi did stop. He got in and it drove off. That’s when I engaged my gears
and resumed my journey home. I remember that scene
like it was yesterday, though the reality is it happened
more than ten years ago. But it stands out so vividly in my mind because it represented a moment of clarity after months of confusion and indecision. I knew in that moment that it was time to quit medicine. That’s right, I quit. I left clinical medicine and I shut
the door firmly behind me. Now, with that kind of start,
you’d be forgiven for thinking this talk is all about death, disease,
and the dysfunction in our health system. And while those elements are part
of my talk today, there is more. Because this is really a talk about what becomes available
when we have the courage to let go. It wasn’t easy walking away
from my profession. I felt shame and guilt
for having walked away. I wondered
whether I’d been foolish and naive. How could I have spent so long studying and then chosen to leave it all behind? Was it all wasted? I no longer trusted my ability
to make important decisions, and I tried to run from it all by working in fields
completely unrelated to medicine. But I couldn’t hide. The questions kept coming. People wanted to know why I left. And the voice in my own head
was getting louder. So, towards the end of 2012,
I went looking for answers. I did a “postmortem” on the premature death
of my medical career, and I packaged it in the form
of a memoir by the same name. The most obvious place to start
this inquiry was with my own story. I was born in the Johannesburg
township of Soweto, not far from here. I was the younger of two children. My upbringing was fairly typical
for a black person growing up in the townships
during the 1970s and 80s. This was a very dark time
in the history of our country – the dying days of Apartheid – and that particular monster
wasn’t going down without a fight, [and] as I’m sure many
of you will remember, there were riots and boycotts, police spraying tear gas, people being shot and imprisoned. And while all of this was going on
in my external environment, there was turmoil
in my internal world too. My father was an alcoholic, and life at home was often very tense. It felt as if we were always teetering
on the verge of collapse. My world nearly did collapse, when my brother died
when I was 14 years old. So, by right,
life shouldn’t have worked out for me. But it did. I love to learn and most of all,
I love to read. In the middle of my father’s rants, I would bury my head in books. And I learnt
that more was possible for me, beyond the sniveling confines
of my home environment. So I set my sights on the biggest dream
I could dare to dream: to be a doctor. And I worked very hard
to realize that dream. It was a very proud moment for me when I graduated
from University of Cape Town in 1999. But that’s where the fairy tale ends. “Hellish” is probably the best word
to describe my experiences during the time that I worked
as a doctor in public hospitals. I worked long hours,
in poorly-resourced healthcare facilities, looking after very sick patients. This was a time of AIDS denial
in this country, so patients were dying in their numbers. It got to a point – There was a time when I started to wonder whether the HIV was some sinister virus that was being targeted at my patients. Everywhere I looked, it seemed as if patients
were either infected or dying from complications
related to the disease. It got to the point
where I just didn’t want to know anymore. And it wasn’t just that I was
constantly giving my patients bad news; but it was also that, then,
I couldn’t do anything about it. I was effectively dumping
a devastating diagnosis on them, and then leaving them to deal with it with whatever supportive measures
they had at their disposal. In addition to HIV and other diseases, we were also dealing with war zone
type of violence in our communities. I don’t want to tell you the gory details of the gruesome ways in which people caused each other harm. It causes one to question
the kind of society we live in, and how little regard there is
for the value of human life. So that morning in Khayelitsha, as I sat in my car watching that injured man
get into a taxi and drive away, it’d all come to a head. I was disillusioned. I thought
that my world-class medical training would equip me to deal
with the daily challenges I faced. I was traumatized by the horrors
I’d seen in the emergency rooms, and I felt impotent to make any real impact
in the lives of my patients. It all came together
as I watched that man go, and the resounding question
in my heart in that moment was: “Who had I become
that I could watch a patient who clearly needed medical attention, get into a taxi and drive away?” The truth is, I had become
someone I didn’t recognize. And certainly, someone
I did not want to be. So I left. And what followed
was a process of soul searching that lasted close to a decade. At first, this soul searching
was characterized by doubt and self-recrimination; later on, there was more meaningful introspection
and reflection. And ultimately, I arrived at an acceptance of myself and the life changing decision
I had made. While interrogating
my journey through medicine, I also spoke to other doctors
who had chosen to walk away. Their stories were harrowing. Stories of junior doctors
working very long hours, taking on too much responsibility, with very little supervision
from more experienced doctors. There were stories
of shortages of medication, equipment, supplies,
and of course, personnel. Some doctors cracked under the pressure. Like Nina, a talented young doctor who suffered a breakdown
during her first year as an intern, and Wanda, who told me how she felt she was playing God with people’s lives. Another doctor, Ludoe, spoke about what he termed
the “health disservice” in the system. Others simply became disillusioned when they realized
that there was a mismatch between what they were taught and what they could practically do
on the ground. There was a common thread
which ran through all of these stories, one of trauma, overwhelm, and burnout. I was very fortunate that I was able
to write about these experiences. It was a cathartic process for me, and it allowed me to bring closure to a very challenging chapter of my life. And thankfully, it’s also given rise to a long overdue conversation
in the medical fraternity about what’s not working in the profession
and in the health system as a whole. It’s as if my story
has broken open a wound that’s been festering for years,
but wasn’t been attended to, because no one wanted to admit
that it was there in the first place. So, at last, we’re talking
about what it’s really like, and I believe
that we’ve taken a critical step towards healing healthcare
and those who work in it. But while it’s all worked out well now, for a long time, I gave myself
a very rough time about leaving. After all, so many of us were brought up on the notion of perseverance
and hanging in there at all costs. No pain, no gain. We’ve internalized this story to the extent that we won’t allow
ourselves to let go, Even when holding on is sucking
every ounce of vitality out of us. And the critical voice
doesn’t only come from within. I’ve heard people say to me:
“How dare you?” “How dare you walk away from something
that so many would give anything for?” “What right do you have to try
to make another life for yourself?” What right do I have? The right to wholeness and fulfillment to follow my journey wherever it may lead, to stumble, and fall,
and pick myself up and start again. The right to well-being. It’s a right we all have as human beings. I would even go as far as to say
that it’s our responsibility, particularly in the health sector, where the well-being
of others is in our hands. That’s what becomes available
when we choose to stop suffering, yet, so many remain stuck. There’s fear of change, of criticism,
of letting others down. What they fail to appreciate is
that there is a big difference between letting go of what no longer works and giving up
because we just couldn’t be bothered. It takes courage
to really look at your life and to see when things aren’t working,
to acknowledge it; to see when you’re actually doing
more harm than good. It’s a powerful act to put your hand up
and say, “I’m struggling!” And when that struggle starts
to impact your well-being, and the well-being of those you love, and potentially, the well-being
of those you serve, then it really is time to make
some tough decisions. Believe me when I say this, it’s not easy, when you realize that some dreams
must be allowed to die. But, out of letting go
something else becomes available. When I chose to walk away
from the medical profession, I gave myself a second chance, a chance to thrive instead of suffering, to find and do work that I love, and to contribute to make
a difference in my own way. There is so much going on in our world
right now that demands our attention. I believe that we must
take up to that challenge with passion and commitment, and that means that we must be willing
to let go of what no longer serves us, and what ultimately, prevents us
from truly serving others. The world needs us at our best. Thank you. (Applause)


  1. Sinikiwe Dhliwayo
    Sinikiwe Dhliwayo June 1, 2017

    "…But out of letting go, something else becomes available.." So powerful…What a lesson in giving oneself a second chance!!!

  2. Dr Dermix Girl
    Dr Dermix Girl July 6, 2017

    I wish I had been able to walk away from surgical training rather than self sabotage my career as a way to get out…walking away is brave

  3. Paul D
    Paul D November 24, 2017

    A major problem with medicine is that people get into it for selfish reasons. This is a classic example. Doctors are just more focused on having the title/degree on the wall than the people who rely on them. You don't see this happening in the elite units in military because they weed those people out early.

  4. Akosuagh1
    Akosuagh1 December 12, 2017

    Such a substantive speech.

  5. uKnow
    uKnow December 16, 2017

    I'm so concerned by this exposure; I TRULY AM. How TERRIBLY SAD! I know partly why that girl cracked I think?

  6. rags
    rags December 20, 2017

    I quit my job to start my practice. But in the last few years I feel I am not doing Justice to myself and my patients. I want to quit but fear that quitting will make me appear weak to myself. That's my greatest fear.

  7. Ndahafa
    Ndahafa January 8, 2018

    Inspiring and brave. Thank you for the motivation to be my best.

  8. Bill Wilson
    Bill Wilson January 27, 2018

    I hope she gets into politics and works to change the system.

  9. joe blow
    joe blow January 28, 2018

    truth is doctors practicing western medicine do more harm than good. western medicine should be banned from planet earth.

  10. Denney Noble
    Denney Noble January 30, 2018

    There is SO MUCH more that needs to be said about the FAILURE and SHORTcomings of allopathic , MD type medicine. It's based on what I call the man's illusion , his need for CONTROL and MANIPULATION of symptoms, which is OK in life saving emergencies, but for everyday care does not serve…..either the patient OR the profession. MUCH DEEPER understanding of symptomology is offered in Naturopathy, Oriental and Ayurvedic medicine and ENERGY medicine practices. That's right; In China there are hospitals where NO MEDICINE is provided at all. Only the chi or energy of the chi masters. Works very well.
    Another problem is the FOCUS on DISEASE, rather than upon HEALTH. The way the human MIND works is that that THAT creates MORE of what we put our ATTENTION on. It's a hermetic principle every shaman, wizard and witch & conjurer well understands. And hence we in the U.S. live with a medical system that spends INCREASING amounts each year IDing and treating DISEASE & we, consequently, as a society, become SICKER and SICKER.
    The absence of DISEASE IS NOT Wellness! I beg you to realize. BUILDING and STRENGTHENING our HEALTH must become our primary focus…..and not DISEASE identification and symptom identification and suppression by drugs.

  11. Ofer Bar
    Ofer Bar February 14, 2018

    Bravo, Dr. Maria, hat off! And lots of success in your current & future activities! My partner has a similar story, she quit academic teaching in 2012 (at 49, after 12 hard years in the business) because she felt everything was to no avail under the given circumstances in the Romanian educational system. Just like you, she is about to invest her knowledge, experience and passion into connected domains, exactly where her skills are needed. It is hard, but rewarding. All the learning and the sleepless nights were NOT for nothing — only they had to be invested into something else that made REAL sense… Some people are like that!

  12. Hafsa Mohamud
    Hafsa Mohamud February 23, 2018

    Great talk. She was so well-spoken, poetic and relatable!

  13. Hafsa M
    Hafsa M February 23, 2018

    Great talk! I just finished college and am studying for my MCAT. However, I feel like I've reached the end of my rope. I can't seem to find it in me to muster up the will to study for this exam. I just finished my B.S and it was this race where it wasn't about my interests or what I was passionate about. Rather, I was only focused on making it out and putting myself in a good position to apply for medical school. A lot of doubts emerged during my last few semesters about whether or not I really want to pursue this career path but I quieted them down in fear that acknowledging them would hinder me from completing my degree. Now that I'm done I feel like I have to face them. I don't think I can make it through medical school, residency and all their associated examinations without knowing why I''m doing it. Do I really enjoy medicine? I know I want to help people but I'm not sure this is the way I want to go about it. After months of study sessions filled with questioning myself, I finally mustered the courage to inform my parents of my inner turmoil earlier this week. They are very disappointed in me to say the least. I feel like this dream is one I inherited rather than one I came to on my own volition. I feel like I already invested a lot of time and energy in this pursuit that I'm beginning to doubt whether or not I should walk away. I greatly resonated with your speech. However, I am still a little afraid of finalizing whether or not I should let this "dream" die.

  14. The possibility center
    The possibility center May 18, 2018

    This has inspired me to hold onto my medical career . Great career path . No regrets so far.

  15. hoishey
    hoishey May 22, 2018

    It was an extremely hard decision for me too…I felt guilt and shame and even had to deal with anxiety and panic attacks .I even sometimes felt that I had let my society down as doctors here in india are expected to make an impact on people's lives especially the poor and downtrodden..I'm still struggling and I needed to hear this..thanks

  16. fifi msp
    fifi msp May 31, 2018

    As a teacher I see a lot of this happening as well. Not as dramatic as in medicine, but I see it happening for many of the same reasons. Your intentions and reality and the inability to deliver on your intentions bog you down.

  17. Francis jaffier
    Francis jaffier July 2, 2018

    Great story! Magnificent speaker!

  18. Tinhihi
    Tinhihi July 22, 2018

    Thanks for sharing your journey and your courage to make the changes that were and are truthful for you. You are a gifted special person and an inspiration. Thanx, again.

  19. David cawrowl
    David cawrowl August 19, 2018

    I believe you have to have "a calling" for the medical/mental health field, and that is what sustains you through all the challenges, no less than one is called to the clergy.

  20. El Able
    El Able August 29, 2018

    Thank you for saving my life I am quitting med school today… I am just like you I came form poor reservation and how you explained your dreams is how I felt. I am the first native medical student in my family but idc anymore and I am done. I am getting my life back medicine is a dark hole and I will not waste away my life any longer.

  21. Erykah Rantho
    Erykah Rantho September 8, 2018

    She does sound like a reader.Great talk.

  22. Nadège Hope
    Nadège Hope September 28, 2018

    Very powerful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you

  23. Okot Ray
    Okot Ray October 3, 2018

    TEDx is there a way we can contact your speakers???????

  24. Okot Ray
    Okot Ray October 3, 2018

    I will soon be leaving teaching (education) to join medicine.

  25. Brian Florentino
    Brian Florentino October 28, 2018

    Wow, this is a strong TED talk. Much respect.

  26. Nathalie Nelson
    Nathalie Nelson November 13, 2018

    I’d love to know what she did instead

  27. ACB 2K
    ACB 2K November 14, 2018

    The same people that colonized Africa, brought Aids to Africa but yet Africans won't mention it.. smh .pitiful

  28. Vee
    Vee November 25, 2018

    Wow What an Inspiring Story! Thank you for being a living example of "Bravery"!!!!

  29. Nika!!
    Nika!! January 10, 2019

    I am going through the same thing

  30. Nonhle Mkhize
    Nonhle Mkhize February 27, 2019

    I'm really inspired by your talk Doc,it's been a helish ride and I've lost many if not all of my family members.I still want to become a medical oncologist even though by the time I achieve this I will have no one to celebrate with.

  31. Maria Woo
    Maria Woo March 1, 2019

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  32. Hotep Muh Dyk Amen Ra Nnngggrrr
    Hotep Muh Dyk Amen Ra Nnngggrrr April 23, 2019

    Medicine is full of pussies who shouldn’t be there.

  33. Grace Lily
    Grace Lily May 19, 2019

    this makes me cry

  34. Ms. J
    Ms. J June 10, 2019

    I think it takes great courage to change direction in life no matter what the cost……..kudos to you my dear

  35. Jooji Yahya
    Jooji Yahya June 25, 2019

    Why did she live medicine?

  36. samphonnet gamgee
    samphonnet gamgee June 27, 2019

    I watched this till the end, but WHAT did she finally do after "walking away" ? This TED would have been more useful if one had discussed alternative career paths.

  37. Lean
    Lean July 3, 2019

    Well articulated, beautiful eloquent speech. She is well spoken, I like her English!

  38. Groud Frank
    Groud Frank July 4, 2019

    This is easily one of the best Teds out there.

  39. Ila Gupta
    Ila Gupta July 15, 2019

    Maria, we need a whole lot of doctors like you(conscientious, ethical and caring) here in the United States. I'm happy to know you found your groove. Keep up the good work and your beautiful spirit.

  40. Megan Claren
    Megan Claren July 15, 2019

    “What right do you have to walk away” “how dare you” how about it’s not your life and I don’t owe you any explanation because I have the right to control my life in whatever capacity it requires.

  41. Juliette MacDonald
    Juliette MacDonald July 17, 2019

    I understand, as you so perfectly explained, why you had to walk away.
    Whenever any Dr or nurse starts to feel overwhelmed by the pain + suffering they see daily- for their own emotional health it’s time to walk away.
    It is sad that the profession has lost such a strong intelligent woman but you alone cannot change the world you see on your own.
    And the many more needed to see that there’s a problem either don’t see clearly, don’t care, or don’t feel they’ll be heard.
    Good luck in life.

  42. Winter Star
    Winter Star July 17, 2019

    It can be utterly soul-crushing, working in corporate, cookie-cutter “health” care! …Because it’s based on things like that flawed germ theory, governed by corporate-think, toxic-capitalism business models, barely a nod to ethics.
    I had to keep working in it, but with some traumatic nudges, chose my way into what’s commonly called “alternative” medicine. Grandma warned, “it’ll ruin you for working in regular medicine!”. I answered w/a question: “How is that a problem, specifically?” (She had no answer).
    I ended up in that for over 10 years, compared with barely physically/emotionally surviving a year at a VA hospital, & a year at a Kaiser.
    The nightmares witnessed, in how patients were treated & processed, were legion. The stress levels for all, were deadly.
    I finally had to stop trying to pump-up a deluded mood daily, just to get in the car to get to work, at regular hospitals or clinics. It’s Industry pressures towards minimal staffing…which fails to be able to deliver even basic adequate care. Forget charting truthfully…industry forbids that, to prevent lawsuits.
    It was still a challenge working in an alternative med. doc. office, because of still having to deal with some insurance, some helping patients navigate the disability system, the long commutes in heavy traffic. But it was also more humane, compassionate. There was a learning curve, but that’s one of the things we do…learn.
    I really hope those in such end-stage career stress, find just the right niche, so they can keep being a Doctor….it’s not only facilities anymore! There are MANY ways to be a Doc, and nurture yourself, while doing something you started out liking. ==> Figure out specifically what it was that got you to go into Doctoring…that might point the way to a niche that fits much better than corporate medicine.
    Even if you stop formally being a Doc., though, you’ll probably find it leaking over into other things you do…like the ex-surgeon who quit doctoring to hands-on run his own mechanic shop; or the Doc who quit to play piano.
    I finally quit, disabled…but kept doing Volunteer Advocacy (helping some poor folks get their health & living situation needs met…so many fall through cracks in systems!). There’s no paycheck. But, it helps them, & helps me…so everybody wins!

  43. Mark Bomvana
    Mark Bomvana July 18, 2019

    She's so lovely 😍

  44. Emeka Nwadiora
    Emeka Nwadiora July 20, 2019


  45. Jason14500 A
    Jason14500 A July 22, 2019

    Have a blessed day!!! 🐸😍

  46. Really Smitty
    Really Smitty July 22, 2019

    Too bad people in the Healthcare profession here in the States won't listened to this. They remain in a place that eradicates any trace of their humanity because of exorbitant loans, familial expectations, and the misconception that walking away is synonymous with failure.
    I WAS that patient left alone while doctors, nurses, other staff ignored me. It would be years until my declining health FORCED me to go to a hospital – a building of overworked, bitter, disinterested people tried to care for thousands of people while trying to hold onto whatever soul they had left.

    BRAVA to her for knowing what it truly meant to Do No Harm to others AND herself

  47. Richard Kambinda
    Richard Kambinda July 22, 2019


  48. Charlotte Fairchild
    Charlotte Fairchild July 22, 2019

    I thought being a minister who faced death threats for being a woman and being paid when only men were worthy of being paid was too difficult. Thank you.

  49. mai hernandez
    mai hernandez July 24, 2019

    i feel you doctor as im also a physician working for the government.. i admire your courage to walk away from what you loved and sacrificed for.. god bless you in your endeavors.. once a doctor is always a doctor.. 😇

  50. Punky Jacob
    Punky Jacob July 24, 2019

    I applaud you for walking away. I only hope that the doctor and nurses on call that fateful day when I needed them most watch this and, too, choose to walk away. I was sent home to die because I was "just another drunk who is going to die anyway, AND, she doesn't have any insurance." My partner left my room to get me some water and, upon walking up the hallway back to my room, those are the words she heard from them who were talking right outside of my room. An hour later, I was discharged without a diagnosis of any kind, and sent home. Two months later, my life hanging by a thread, we got word that Duke University Hospital would take me without insurance. We made the long drive where they nursed me somewhat back to life. I was 72 lbs and filled with fluid retention. I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given 2-3 mos to live. They wouldn't let me leave until I learned to walk again and keep down solid and liquid food. They also helped me get affordable insurance, find recovery, and sent me home a month later with plenty of medications. That was over nine years ago, and I am still living, still sober, and so grateful for the docs, nurses, and my social worker angel at Duke. Again, God bless you for walking away when you knew you had to take care of you first that you may then be able to care for others.

  51. Megan Paterson
    Megan Paterson July 26, 2019

    I left my nursing career. Our stories are very similar and I left for all the same reasons. The wisest words were spoken at the very end – "The world needs us at our very best". So if you are dying in your profession, then you are doing more harm than good. Find a place where you thrive and that thriving energy will ripple out to infinity effecting all in its path in a positive way.

  52. mpoi makhetha
    mpoi makhetha July 26, 2019

    This is very brave

  53. Christine Haigh
    Christine Haigh July 26, 2019

    Great presentation.

  54. jenny taylor
    jenny taylor July 28, 2019

    Brave. He was obviously nervous. I've often thought of big men like him as cool, laid-back people, making a fortune with their skills. One forgets about the loss of life hey must face, the potential for self-doubt, frustration of "running out of time". One forgets they too, are vulnerable human beings.

  55. Vince P
    Vince P July 29, 2019

    She didn't say what she's doing now

  56. Gail Lane
    Gail Lane July 29, 2019

    that was good

  57. Tamika Queen
    Tamika Queen July 31, 2019

    Yes, You should have come to the US!

  58. Judi Lynn
    Judi Lynn August 2, 2019

    What was the motivation of the 61 people who gave this a thumbs down??

  59. Farxiyo Omar
    Farxiyo Omar August 2, 2019

    I talk to a student doctor who wants to kill her self instead became a pharmacist. She saw many people dayig and has no enough doctors in Toronto Canada

  60. Farxiyo Omar
    Farxiyo Omar August 2, 2019

    I saw a dmedical doctor retired in a plane kept quite while someone was sick instead a nurse helped her out and talk to the nurse at end of the journey.

  61. ex catholic
    ex catholic August 4, 2019

    I am in the medical profession myself and have signs of burn out and depression. In fact am at. a crossroads in my life because I cannot live my remaining years in depression and unhappiness.

  62. Lenna W
    Lenna W August 4, 2019


  63. Coleman Jackson
    Coleman Jackson August 4, 2019

    Know yourself

  64. Azania Malete
    Azania Malete August 6, 2019

    I hear where your coming from, I’m in the health sector. The challenges in the health System are still the same even today. I pray that Jesus Christ gives us the wisdom to improve this status core. In most circumstances you go an extra mile for your patients & improvise due to lack of resources.

  65. Tshimangadzo Mavhungu
    Tshimangadzo Mavhungu August 6, 2019

    Wow great talk

  66. edna darko
    edna darko August 6, 2019

    wow, I am touched, I am in tear. well-spoken

  67. Carmelo Giuseppe
    Carmelo Giuseppe August 7, 2019

    It's a powerful and courageous act to acknowledge when something is no longer working no matter how much was invested. The gift is walking away in love knowing that you served it your best. Now you must let go🤔🙄

  68. Comfort Akinyemi
    Comfort Akinyemi August 7, 2019

    What a great decision…so inspiring
    Whatsoever your hands find doing do it well..

  69. Nqobile Hlophe
    Nqobile Hlophe August 7, 2019

    I’m so glad I pressed play…

  70. Technicians 87
    Technicians 87 August 8, 2019

    This is one of the best talks I have seen on TED. I can relate to her story but I am just not brave enough to walk away. It was expected that I would become a doctor because I said that is what I wanted to be while in kindergarten. My parents latched on to that declaration and my life track was set. I always wanted to please my parents so I never even entertained doing anything else. It wasn't until early in my post residency career that doubt started to creep in but I pushed forward. I thought that the next step would bring me happiness and fulfillment but it did not. I went from academic to private practice to hospital employed thinking that the grass was greener on the other side. Becoming a mother has just added to my discontent with my career choice. I feel like I am missing their childhood but at the same time my income from being a doctor has allowed us to live better than I did as a child or at least that is what I tell myself as motivation to keep going. I am not totally miserable as a doctor it is just not as fulfilling as I thought it would be. Unfortunately, I don't have the courage to say goodbye so I will find the strength to keep going and hope that my children's lives are better because of my silent suffering.

  71. A D
    A D August 8, 2019

    That is my story. And the world surely “needs us at our best”

  72. fina'slovebringspeace
    fina'slovebringspeace August 8, 2019

    I feel it, as a nurse I can just about relate.

  73. Darren Lawless
    Darren Lawless August 8, 2019

    15:52 "Believe me when I say this, it's not easy when you realize that some dreams must be allowed to die"…That is such a powerful and profound statement and is wholly applicable in a variety of situations.

  74. Victoria Vines
    Victoria Vines August 8, 2019

    I know what going the extra mile for people when organizations lack Share governance. The patients were vulnerable victims of a HEALTHCARE disparity that I served. The resources more target toward share holder's gains. However because I spoke up some colleagues felt threatened. I dont fell any guilt nor shame. I've decided that I will persevere with a different platform pursuing a different purpose legal nursw consultant.

  75. Stacy Scott
    Stacy Scott August 8, 2019

    Powerful!!! Well stated♥️♥️♥️. Thank you for sharing your story. I myself walked away from my medical dream because "it no longer was working". I love how you expressed and shared the bigger picture. Life changing.

  76. Alban Kikishiy
    Alban Kikishiy August 9, 2019

    Your time there is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand.

  77. Stephen Mabena
    Stephen Mabena August 9, 2019

    Wow! I salute you my sister. God bless you

  78. Akyrah34 Vigier
    Akyrah34 Vigier August 9, 2019

    She would have been a more effective doctor if she had also included the African aspect to her repertoire. She has to understand that modern medicine doesn’t include the healing of the soul just the body if that.

  79. Keneilwe Mohlabane
    Keneilwe Mohlabane August 9, 2019

    What an eloquent and courageous speaker you are. I wish you can choose to go into medical journalist or medical advocate if there are such careers. May God bless you with powerful opportunities that will be a powerful voice for our overworked and sometimes unappreciated doctors. Wow, l salute you, your journey will give unique fruits at the right time.

  80. Cha Cha
    Cha Cha August 10, 2019

    Absolutely brilliant

  81. bern Pil
    bern Pil August 10, 2019

    Wow empowering

  82. Jesus is Lord God bless everyone
    Jesus is Lord God bless everyone August 10, 2019

    Ok but why not open up your own practice or something like that

  83. zarianna1784
    zarianna1784 August 10, 2019

    Weird how I posted something like this on my insta & this popped up on my YouTube feed. I made the decision a year ago to walk away from medicine but I'm still working because there aren't many options in Nigeria when your entire education streamlined you for this. I'm taking 1day at a time. Someday I'll have enough saved up to take off & search for a new pathway .

  84. Rosalba hamer
    Rosalba hamer August 11, 2019

    Very articulate,passionate woman.

  85. Rosalba hamer
    Rosalba hamer August 11, 2019

    Ignoring those who heal is death to all.

  86. John Russell
    John Russell August 11, 2019

    Insert: heart felt YouTube comment

    From: a person that paid to be brainwashed for (x) amount of years, and give people pills/medicine that kill them. Opposed to teaching them how to heal through diet and exercise*

    The people in the medical profession make me laugh. You all pretend your doing something heroic, but in actuality, most diseases/issues people have can be linked back to mucus, and the fact that people have acidic bodies. All the fancy white robes, the fake smiles, the highly toxic flu shots, and the pills should be avoided.

  87. E Tembi
    E Tembi August 11, 2019

    What a woman!
    May the LORD grant you success and blessings in your new endeavours.
    God's will be done

  88. Cristiana
    Cristiana August 12, 2019

    Being MD is looked upon as the top job by those that make the decision at 17 years old. They have no call for the work of a doctor, but a call for that job that all are dying to have.

    Some in the proccess of becoming doctors are acquiring the desire to alienate the wows of humans while other are not. Those that didn't will find different motivation for staying in the profession with the risk of becoming heart hardened and not care as the speaker worried that she became. This is a serious reason to leave the profession.

    Would be better for the system to allow anyone do med course, so it is not seen as top job, but rather a calling to serve in those lines. In this way will not attract only people that look for a challenge to get the top job and its prestige, but will give a chance to those that actually have a heart call to it.

  89. Chris V. Noire.
    Chris V. Noire. August 12, 2019

    I too dreamed of being a bullfighter…it was when I was in the arena staring down a 1-ton bull when I realized I had never really wanted to be a bullfighter…what I really wanted was to hear the crowd's applause and to wear stretchy pants.

  90. Amandla Nkosi
    Amandla Nkosi August 12, 2019

    Powerful speaker and I love how she moves about the stage as she orate. So many South African physicians/clinicians move to other countries such as America due to lack of resources. Doctors are given a load too heavy to carry and are paid mediocre salaries to do way beyond what is humanly possible.

  91. durant1983
    durant1983 August 13, 2019

    Respect to you 👸🏿 Sister ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  92. Annie Conway
    Annie Conway August 13, 2019

    And nothing has changed 7 years later, thanks to a dysfunctional government that simply refuses to learn

  93. Shoshanah Shear
    Shoshanah Shear August 13, 2019

    Thank you so much for sharing this Dr Phalime.
    I worked at GSH in the early 1990s and I can definitely understand why you walked away.

  94. Sharon Simatey Kipchumba
    Sharon Simatey Kipchumba August 13, 2019

    You look fabulous Dr. Thanks for Sharing.

    Sometimes it's too hard to let go of what you LOVE and the more you hold on the more it harms you.

    I recently walked away in a job I really loved and tressured since it was affecting my health , now I looked back and Iam proud of myself, that was the best decision I ever made!

    Anyone in such a situation as mine, especially if its affecting your health, mentally and emotionally,? Think twice! Health is important,

    I highly encourage you to share, speak to someone about it, don't persevere

    All the best!

  95. emily schwellenbach
    emily schwellenbach August 13, 2019

    We see this kind of behavior in the US all the time, poeple are unhinged, its not the doctors fault

  96. Farai Chingono
    Farai Chingono August 14, 2019

    She is so articulate and has a great voice projection too, i can listen to her all day long.

  97. victoria chern
    victoria chern August 21, 2019

    it takes alot of strength to do what you did. i hope one day i will too.

  98. Africa Work & Report
    Africa Work & Report August 26, 2019

    Just needed to hear this, celebrating my 50th birthday preparing for my speech on why I quiting worldly lifestyles. Now leaving at the village free and peaceful, naturally and off technology lifestyle.

  99. Sir Henry E.O3
    Sir Henry E.O3 September 4, 2019

    Honest 🤔doctors… sorry people still exist

  100. Silvilene Cunha
    Silvilene Cunha September 10, 2019

    Wow! Truely powerful talk. Thank you for making the change for better! A second chance for your own happiness and giving hope to others as well👏👏👏🌱

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