#152: Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor, on Hugging Lepers and Making a Difference

By June 19, 2017Leadership, Podcast

In this episode of the L3 Leadership podcast, you’ll hear a talk given by Dr. Jim Withers, Founder of Operation Safety Net, otherwise known as the homeless doctor. In the talk, he shares his journey of how he started dressing up as a homeless man to go out to the streets and treat the homeless to creating a world-wide movement of street medicine. There are a ton of leadership principles that you will learn along the way. Enjoy Dr. Wither’s talk!

L3 Leadership Podcast Episode #152: Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor

L3 Leadership Podcast Episode #152: Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor

L3 Leadership Podcast Episode #152: Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor

To view a transcription of this podcast, go here!

A Few Takeaways:

Go to the people. -Jim Withers Click To Tweet
If you ever get the chance to hug someone with advanced leprosy, do it, it'll be good for your soul.Click To Tweet
'It's easier to shame and blame people than it is to deal with reality.' -Jim WithersClick To Tweet
We're not going a good job of caring about the realities of others. -Jim Withers Click To Tweet
Don't dehumanize the people that God puts in front of you. -Jim WithersClick To Tweet
Getting close to people is the only way to make a difference. -Jim WithersClick To Tweet

Dr. Jim Wither’s Bio:

In 1992, Dr. Jim Withers set out single-handedly to deliver care to street people in Pittsburgh. He started by doing his homework – clocking hours in the library, reading how to best gain entry to the world of the homeless – before suiting up one night in tattered clothes. “I was rubbing dirt in my hair,” he says. “My kids thought I was crazy.”

But street folks embraced him, Withers says, and he them. “I found great professors of medicine – and life – in alleyways and abandoned buildings, on riverbanks and under bridges.”

His initial project gained patients, volunteer clinicians and students to the extent that, in 1993, Withers officially launched Operation Safety Net under the auspices of not-for-profit Mercy Hospital, which kicked in $50,000 to fund the start-up. Operation Safety Net today offers round-the-clock availability of paramedics, primary care physicians, registered nurses, podiatrists, dentists and the formerly homeless, as well as medical students and residents serving clerkships.

Connect with Jim: 


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