22 September 2011

An Open Letter to Stanford

Dr. Paul Pizzo

Dean of the School of Medicine
Stanford University Medical Center
Stanford, California 94305

Dr. Ronald G. Pearl
Chairman of the Department of Anesthesia
Stanford University Medical Center
Stanford, California 94305

Drs. Pizzo and Pearl:

I hope that you already know what a tremendous individual you have in Dr. Larry Chu. However, should there be any doubt as to his ability to inspire, please allow me to share my own reflections regarding the good doctor.

Dr. Chu encouraged me to apply for one of the ePatient scholarships to the Medicine 2.0 Conference held Sept. 16-18 at Stanford. I was awarded a scholarship allowing me to travel across the country to join forces with fellow ePatients and learn from internationally recognized healthcare and media professionals about technology’s impact on medicine today. What came as an added bonus to the scholarship was Dr. Chu.

Dr. Chu’s engagement with the group of ePatients selected to receive scholarships was pleasantly surprising. Despite the fact that none of us were Pew researchers or best-selling authors or top-of-our-field doctors, Dr. Chu treated the ePatient group with the utmost respect even prior to actually meeting us. The group received a message from Dr. Chu late one night telling us of his most recent moment of inspiration and subsequent idea—to make the ePatients a part of the conference rather than just attendees. As a result, an ePatient panel was added to the schedule, allowing ten of us to share our stories and provide an opportunity for caregivers to learn about the patient perspective. It was a true honor to participate in this panel, and the experience was made all the more meaningful by Dr. Chu’s attendance—and it was the only time throughout the conference that I saw him sit down.

Throughout the conference and in subsequent interactions, Dr. Chu displayed this same sense of caring and ingenuity—expressing thanks to those around him, yet never seeking it out for himself; problem solving with a perpetually positive attitude; remembering names and making connections. It is obvious that Dr. Chu is passing on his characteristics to his students, as I also had the great pleasure of speaking with some of them regarding the effects of pet facilitated therapy and its effects on blood pressure and depression. The students were charming and inquisitive, which is exactly what I hope for in a doctor.

Finally, the Medicine 2.0 Conference overall was more than I had expected. The keynote speakers were truly exceptional. The panels and presentations were enlightening and engaging. I came away with so much more than just a better understanding of the role of social media in healthcare. I came away inspired.

It is my hope that the Department of Anesthesia and Stanford as a whole will recognize Dr. Chu for the work he has done—and will continue to do—as well as his role as an ambassador of the highest caliber.




  1. Sarah, thank you for writing this beautiful letter to Drs. Pizzo and Pearl of Stanford.

    I second everything you said and couldn't agree more about Dr Larry Chu's ingenuity, humility and kindness.

    His vision plus courage to make brilliant last minute decisions and follow up with beyond stellar execution make him a rare type of leader.

    I too left inspired and hope that his work (and that of his team!) will be recognized.

    Liza Bernstein, aka @itsthebunk

  2. Sarah,
    I was on my way to an appointment and took a quick glance toward your letter. As I tweeted, I was so moved by how accurate and beautifully written this post was it took my breath away. I knew I wanted to sit down and reflect some more before posting my comment.

    I admit I can be naive sometimes and forget that there are a number of reasons people become involved in Health Care Social Media.

    Dr. Larry Chu is one of the "official Leaders" who honors, respects and collaborates with every single person because he knows we can only change the system if each and every voice is heard.

    Again, thank you for using your knowledge, skill and ability to capture the true spirit and action Larry Chu gave each of us before, during and after #med2.

    Lisa Fields, AKA @practicalwisdom


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