“How to Human” Author Mesmerizes #dermPAfall Audience!

Stop living in auto mode, see others and find common ground

Storyteller, speaker, author and Nashville resident, Carlos Whittaker helped kick off the SDPA 21st Annual Fall Dermatology Conference Thursday with the theme, How to Human, based on his book. He mesmerized the audience by sharing his personal experience of being the parent of a child with eczema who asked him to “thank” the #dermPAs for their work.

He shifted gears to focus on bringing hope to mankind through slight paradigm shifts that can be implemented in daily life. A simple initial action is to start addressing individuals by their names to assist them in feeling recognized and acknowledged. For example, when traveling, he tries to thank TSA officers by calling them by name – and the response is always gracious! Using this same thought process, Whittaker reminded PAs that patients are not looking for perfection, but for someone who “cares and is authentic.”

Coverage: SDPA 21st Annual Fall Dermatology Conference, Oct. 25-29, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee

He discussed our tether to technology as a barrier for connecting as humans. As Americans spend an average of five hours a day on their phones, Whittaker believes “our souls and our psyche were not created with the capacity to consume the amount of content we consume.”  Whittaker encourages all of us to consume less to be more available. He relayed his own experience disconnecting from his screen while living with a silent Amish community on a sheep farm. Whittaker reports he underwent brain scans before and after this experience and was told his cerebellum had “healed 5 years in 9 months”. He didn’t really need this evidence because he recognized that he could feel like a different human being after this experience stating, “when you lower the volume of life, the volume of living goes up”.

He illustrated this experience by having the audience sit silently for 47 seconds, which felt like several minutes.

As humans are desperate to be seen, Whittaker elaborated on the importance of “seeing” others.  While many focus on how divided we are in the US, he reminded the attendees it is not that we are more divided now than ever, but rather that we have more “access” to other people’s opinions. He encourages “seeing” those with whom we disagree as an approach to healing the world and ourselves. He conveys the message that we should not “stand on issues but walk with people” and this will ultimately lead to “freeing” us to be human. He concludes that we need to stop living in auto mode, see others and find common ground.

By Sarah B.W. Patton, MSHS, PA-C

Pictured: Carlos Whittaker