Since his first appearance with Oprah Winfrey 10 years ago, “America’s doctor” Mehmet Oz has been a fixture of daytime television with his syndicated talk serial, The Dr. Oz Show. At SUCCESS, we also like to think of him as our own: Dr. Oz and his writing partner Michael Roizen, M.D., have been with us as columnists since 2009.
But Dr. Oz is not merely a media personality. He’s a practicing cardiac surgeon in New York, still performing heart surgeries on a regular basis. To put a spin on the old joke, he is a doctor, and he plays one on TV. Beginning Thursday, Oct. 23, you can watch him in action on Surgeon Oz, a docu-series that premieres on OWN at 10 p.m. (ET). The series will show Oz in his element, saving lives in the operating room and counseling patients and their families on health and well-being.
As a preview of what viewers will see on Surgeon Oz, and to share more of his personal best practices with our readers, Oz answered a few of our pressing questions.
Q: You’ve touched so many people and affected their health positively as a media personality and author. Fewer people get to see you as a practitioner and a surgeon. What does it mean to you to lift the veil on that huge and impressive aspect of your career through Surgeon Oz?
A: On Surgeon Oz viewers will see why I’ve devoted my life and career to heart health and surgery for over three decades. I still practice medicine because, for me, there is a remarkable sense of connection and purpose when you are able to help another human being. I want to continue helping as many people as I can so they can be here for their loved ones.
Q: Apart from 30 years of practice, how do you keep your composure in the tense moments of surgery?
A: Yoga and meditation are both great ways to deal with stress in our lives. I have a yoga routine every morning and practice meditation to help me stay focused and centered.
Q: What is the foundation of your bedside manner and what are the values you lean on while interacting with patients and their families? How do those values shape your life on a daily basis?
A: A physician’s office should be the ultimate no-embarrassment zone, because your health is at stake. I’ve always felt that the more comfortable patients are with their doctor, the more open they are going to be when it comes to describing their symptoms, and the better the doctor will be able to treat them. It’s mutually beneficial for people to feel they can talk to their doctor about anything, and what we try to do on the show is let people know that this is how it should be. This is how comfortable and open you should be with your doctor. As you’ll see on Surgeon Oz, I counsel my patients and their families through prognosis and recovery. I try to deliver the reality of the situation directly, but I also think that making my patients smile and feel good is important, even when their health circumstances are serious.
Q: Since it may surprise some people to find out that you are still very much a practicing doctor while maintaining a very busy media schedule, we have to ask, what are your secrets of productivity and getting it ALL done?
A: My morning yoga stretch is about seven minutes long. There’s a reason why it’s seven minutes long: Because it’s hard to admit to yourself that your life is so out of control that you can’t carve out even seven minutes in the morning. The secret for keeping my energy level up during the day is making sure I’m getting enough sleep at night. Everyone needs seven to eight hours of sleep a night, so be sure to figure out the time you need to start your day, and prepare yourself to go to bed accordingly.
Q: What keeps you driven to do it all?
A: I am driven by service to others. For me, it is essential to my happiness and brings gratitude into my life. I always say that everyone needs to give their heart a reason to keep beating.
Q: Of all the habits you have, what would you say are the few that you’d attribute your success to?
A: I build teams of people who are smarter than I am. I give them autonomy to excel and nudge them if I believe we can do better at a task.
Q: Now that we know how you are so productive, what are your tips for work/life balance?
A: To achieve your goals, make the right thing to do the easy thing to do. I recently replaced the couch in front of my TV with a stationary bike. Before I did this, I had to make time to go to the gym, but now I can pedal while viewing my favorite shows. Since the average American watches more than 30 hours of TV per week, it could mean a lot of action for your body, with little effort required.
Q: You’re such a positive person. How do you stay that way?
A: I take care of my body and live a very healthy life all around. I exercise for at least 30 minutes five times per week, do my yoga and eat a very healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables with very little meat or processed foods. I don’t smoke, and rarely drink. Most important, I keep myself mentally and emotionally young by carving out time in my busy schedule to de-stress and spend time with my family. All of my free time is spent with my family. We all have such busy lives during the week. On the weekends we come together. I’m a real homebody, but still love to be active, so we often play basketball as a family or create other games to keep things fun and active.