#153: Q&A with Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor and Founder of Operation Safety Net

By June 19, 2017Leadership, Podcast

In this episode of the L3 Leadership podcast, you’ll hear our Q&A with Dr. Jim Withers, Founder of Operation Safety Net, otherwise known as the homeless doctor.


  • How can we make people feel valuiable and worthwhile everyday?
  • How do you deal with all the pain that you deal with on a daily basis? How do you get refreshed?
  • How can you not get overwhelmed by the needs of the world and actually do something to make a difference?
  • How do you allocate your time between being a doctor in a hospital vs being a doctor for those on the street?
  • Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you could go back and start again?
  • Can you talk about toxic charity? How can people actually make a difference in organizations instead of just serving to get a pat on the back?
  • How can people get involved with Operation Safety Net?

L3 Leadership Podcast Episode #153: Q&A with Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor

L3 Leadership Podcast Episode #153 - Q&A with Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor

L3 Leadership Podcast Episode #153 – Q&A with Dr. Jim Withers, The Homeless Doctor

To view a transcription of this episode, go here!

A few key 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 jobe 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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Alex Tulandin

Alex Tulandin

Alex Tulandin is a full-time Realtor with Keller Williams Realty whose team is committed to providing clients with highly-effective, premier real estate experiences throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.

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