One Year From International Fame To Unemployment (Part II)

The last time we met I began telling the story of my journey from international fame to unemployment (Part I). It was a whirlwind adventure lasting 369 days.

Prior to all this I was oh-so-comfortable living a life of anonymity. Valuing my privacy, I rarely participated in on-camera interviews, did minimal public speaking, and only had a token presence on social media.

LinkedIn – check! Because I felt that is what responsible professionals do. Twitter – check! I followed a bunch of surgical societies and medical journals. Facebook – nope! Even today I still don’t have an account.

Then the sudden fame hit and BAM! I tell you, that was unexpected and forcibly shoved me out of my comfort zone.

Finally, a year later – almost two months today, I resigned. I strutted in, handed in my hospital ID, defiantly did an about face and walked out the door – head held high. Do you know how liberating that feels?

Me neither, because that is not how it happened.

Actually, I hoped to take advantage of the “slow news cycle” heading into the weekend by notifying my leadership early one Friday morning. I expected I would share my decision, finish the work day, and head home for an uneventful weekend. I was not on call and my only professional obligation was to participate in the faculty processional Sunday evening at the medical school graduation.

To call myself naive would be generous.

Around noon, shortly after I finished clinic, the text messages and phone calls began. Most assumed I was moving on to that amazing dream job. Of course if you read Part I you know that not to be true.

By close of business I received job inquiries from multiple trauma centers. The unsolicited attention was validating, but rushing off to another job was not where my head was during that time.

And before I made it to commencement two days later, I was in crisis management mode. Now it was clear to everyone that I wasn’t going anywhere – just resigning. And that is when the narrative about about my departure began to spin beyond my control.

But I am getting ahead of myself. So let’s back up a little – back to the press conference on July 11, 2016.  It was the Monday four days after the shooting. That press conference catapulted me into the national spotlight and I was unprepared for the reaction.

I was trending on Twitter – so I was told.

I was trending on Facebook as well – so I was told. Is “trending” the correct term for Facebook? If I had an account I would know.

You see, I was unaware of all of this. I had no idea what was happening beyond the confines of that press conference. Oblivious, I exited the room… stepped into the hallway… and walked into a media tempest.

 Photo Taken After the Press Conference (“ A History of White Delusion ” – NY Times, Jul 2016)

Photo Taken After the Press Conference (“A History of White Delusion” – NY Times, Jul 2016)

And my friend, that is where I will continue next time we meet. To respect the privacy of others, I am awaiting permission from a few folks whose photos I want to include in the telling of this story. I hope you understand and will return for the conclusion of this 3-part series. My goal is to publish later this week.

Until next time….

Brian H. Williams, MD