INTERVIEW WITH ASHELY ALKER, MD
What guided your decision to go into medicine and specifically, your chosen field?
I come from a non-medical family. Growing up my mom had lymphoma and then developed many health complications from her radiation. We never fully understood her medical problems or treatments, even when we had exceptional physicians and nurses. I wanted to be able to translate the language of medicine into something that my family could easily understand.
I chose emergency medicine because I wanted to be able to help all patients at their time of greatest need. Emergency medicine is also flexible, which allows me to become involved in patient education initiatives, like my work with Doctorpedia.
“It is very challenging to find good health information on the internet. This is why Doctorpedia is such a great resource, it is a physician curated source for the healthcare information that patients need.”
Who do you spend your free time with?
Like everyone, I spend my free time with my family and friends. My nuclear family includes my husband, Matt and our labradoodle, Lucy.
What about Doctorpedia resonates with your personal and professional mission?
I am dedicated to developing patient-centered medical education. I use social media, writing, TV, film, and podcasts to do this. In one such project, I work as a technical consultant for television shows and major motion pictures, to create an accurate portrayal of health care in popular TV and movies. I have worked with such corporations as Disney, CBC, ABC, Netflix, and Hulu, including the Emmy award-winning show, The Act. Television and movies are an important opportunity for passive learning, and also a chance to remove poor information from mass media. Doctorpedia shares my dedication to patient education through media.
With Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
With Congressman Raul Ruiz
What problem do physicians face that Doctorpedia can help solve?
I think there is often a scientific language barrier between patients and physicians. Given the fast-paced and time-restricted nature of today’s doctor visits, Doctorpedia is the chance to slow down and connect, with information designed by doctors, especially for patients.
What do you think about the health and wellness information and resources available online?
Social media can be a powerful tool. But as a tool, it can be used for good or can cause confusion, frustrations and dangerous outcomes. It is very challenging to find good health information on the internet. This is why Doctorpedia is such a great resource, it is a physician curated source for the healthcare information that patients need.
Dr. Alker's TEDx Talk
You’ve given a TEDx talk about the taboo surrounding the topic of death. Why is it important that people can talk about death?
This is an important topic because we often do not make our decisions concerning end of life care when we are healthy and can be thoughtful on the subject. It is too often that our families are forced to make these decisions in times of tragedy and high stress. A medical advance directive is something that every person should take time to consider today.
“I chose emergency medicine because I wanted to be able to help all patients at their time of greatest need. Emergency medicine is also flexible, which allows me to become involved in patient education initiatives, like my work with Doctorpedia.”
You’ve had multiple leadership roles in your professional career. What do you feel are the top qualities of leadership?
I think leadership is about giving a voice to those who would otherwise stay silent. It means protecting, inspiring and challenging the people on your team. And always remembering you are working for the people who work for you.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t a doctor?
If I could have done anything – a stand-up comedian. But in that life, I am also funny.
Dr. Alker's children's book Goodnight Grandma Angel
What’s your favorite activity outside of work?
I am a writer, so I spend a lot of my free time writing. I write mostly for patients about health care topics. I also have written a children’s book on the loss of a family member called Goodnight Grandma Angel. I wrote it after my mother’s untimely death, as a book to discuss her life with any future grandchildren. I then realized many have suffered similar tragedies, so I published this book. The book was written using my mother’s artwork as illustrations.
Ashely Alker, MD
Chief Medical Media Officer
Ashely Alker, M.D., M.Sc. is an Emergency Medicine physician and a nationally published speaker and writer, with a focus on patient education and healthcare policy. In addition to serving as Doctorpedia's Chief Medical Media Officer, she is one of the hosts of Doctors On The Frontline: A COVID-19 Webcast.