I believe people do not want to be heroes but have the intention of helping others. This intention and drive is what pushes them to not think about what others may be perceived as scary or difficult.
As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Michele C. Reed.
Michele Reed, DO, FAAFP, is a board-certified family medicine physician, public speaker, and best-selling author. She serves as the owner/medical director of MS Family Medicine Health Care, P.C., a holistic practice that serves two locations in Garden City, Long Island and Rosedale, Queens. Recently, Dr. Michele was appointed as the first Health and Wellness Ambassador for Discover Long Island. Her debut book “Mentally Fit, Physically Strong: The FitDoc’s Guide to Real Life, Real Fitness, Real Health” was released May 2017 and became a bestseller on Amazon in June 2017. Dr. Reed is working with Advil on their #AfterMyShot campaign to instill vaccine confidence across the country by providing up to date information and solutions for post-shot side effects.
Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?
When I was seven years old, I knew that I wanted to be a physician and own my own hospital. Little did that young girl know that her dream of becoming a physician would occur on Long Island where she grew up. My owning a hospital, in actuality, turned out to be my opening a private practice on Long Island about 17 years ago. As a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician, my passion is to help people of all ages stay healthy beyond my physical office. I love exercising and I am the school district physician for several school districts so I enjoy helping students to play safely. That passion has led to me being the first Health and Wellness Ambassador for Discover Long Island.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
My favorite book is the bible because it is my faith that has kept me focused and grounded through this journey.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
One of my favorite quotes is “I am stronger than I think I am” because that is what
drives me to always push through what others may see as adversity. My paternal grandmother passed away a few years ago at the age of 102 years old, and she expected each generation to do better than the one before it!! As I think about her now, from the moment I graduated from medical school, I was known as Dr. Reed and she never called me Michele after that. Believing and knowing that I can accomplish all things in Christ who strengthens me, it is possible for me to conquer and overcome whatever situations I am exposed to.
You are currently working with a company that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your company are trying to address?
As a mother of teenagers, I am very excited to be a part of Advil’s #AfterMyShot campaign as we work to instill vaccine confidence across the country by providing up to date information and solutions for post-shot side effects. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and designed to help protect you from getting COVID-19. After receiving your vaccination, it is normal to have some side effects, which means that your body is building protection. Advil is a trusted recovery aid to relieve side affects you may experience after COVID-19 vaccination. Per the CDC, if you received a two-shot vaccine, such as Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, side effects after your second shot may be more intense than the ones you experienced after your first shot. These side effects are signs that your body is building protection against the virus and should go away within a few days.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?
A hero to me is someone who does what is perceived to be the right thing to do and does it unselfishly.
In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.
Five characteristics of a hero are passionate, unselfish, belief in limitless possibilities, dedicated and concerned about others.
If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?
I believe people do not want to be heroes but have the intention of helping others. This intention and drive is what pushes them to not think about what others may be perceived as scary or difficult. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the heroes are the people who wore their masks and went to their jobs or school before we had any COVID-19 vaccine. They were willing to sacrifice their life as they were increasing the likelihood of being exposed to COVID-19.
What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?
Growing up, my parents expected me and my siblings to be involved in community service that could range from 4-H, Boy Scouts, church activities, NAACP and school programs. I would not say I or my practice decided to take a heroic action during the COVID-19 pandemic but we were doing what we were passionate about and that is helping people to be healthy. Even when my office had to close down because the staff became ill with COVID-19, I was nudged by God to continue my way of serving others by videotaping my story of my illness. My videos were featured in a four part series that consisted of articles and videos in our regional newspaper.
Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?
When my office reopened, my staff were my heroes because they left their families at home and risked everyday being exposed to COVID-19 with a common goal to help others.
Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?
I am still frightened that many people still believe that COVID-19 is not real or many people throughout the world have not received the COVID-19 vaccine. So many people have been killed by the virus, even though in the United States we have higher rates of vaccinations, we cannot forget that people in other parts of the world have a substantially lower vaccination rate when compared to the US.
Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain?
I am hopeful about the future when I hear preteens and teens discussing the reason why they were vaccinated against COVID-19. They are tired of social distancing and want to be able to see their friends in person and of course enjoy life.
What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?
That is a very interesting question that I was discussing with a fellow physician about the behavior of people during the pandemic. During the pandemic, people were frightened, patient, compassionate and showed gratitude as we enjoyed learning how to navigate zoom. Some people used this time to start a business, start or finish a degree or connect more with family or friends. I think now there are some people who are less patient and not as gracious as they were before. Despite people’s behavior, I think most people have a deeper appreciation for two precious things — time and life. Many people were able to form stronger relationships with family members, friends or coworkers even on zoom. We learned that time is precious and should be treated as such as we focus on our internal growth.
Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.
I am probably more hopeful now than I was 15 months ago. We had a presidential election during the pandemic and the entire world had eyes on the United States. Issues such as racism and health care disparities were exposed to the world as the entire world was on lockdown. Many things have already started to change for the better and now almost everyone in the US knows about clinical trials. This might lead to more people becoming part of clinical trials.
What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?
I would love to see real changes in the area of health care disparities as all people should be entitled to quality health care. It should not matter if you are in a rural or suburban area but currently our zip code determines the type of care that we will receive.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Our gift to society is to make sure that those that come behind us have a world even better than how it was for us. Figure out what is the change that you would like to see and be that agent of change.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
As a physician, we are trained to heal but I choose to prevent diseases and illness. Fit Doc Michele Reed focuses on being fit in all aspects of our life by focusing on the mental, physical, spiritual and sexual health. I am a marathoner but after having COVID-19, my lung function is not as strong as it was before but I am being patient with my body to fully recover. By sharing the Fit Doc Journey with others even now as I have documented by learning to swim in the open water last summer and now conquering my fear of swimming in a pool, has inspired many people to learn how to swim or a new skill. The movement has already started thanks to social media as Fit Doc Michele Reed even has had two overseas retreats. Part of being fit means deciding to focus on you as you are a priority. I would love to see a moment when throughout the world we are exercising at the same time as we focus on our health.
Over the past few years, I started the Fit Doc Wellness Group on Facebook. The members share what type of exercise they do and how they are doing with the monthly Fit Doc Challenge. I have partnered with other trainers or organizations each month to spread the word about taking care of your body.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
A true fan moment — Former First Lady, Michelle Obama!! Forget about a meal, we would exercise together and then relax on the beach talking about why she exercises and what is her life like now.
How can our readers follow you online?
FB and IG: Fit Doc Michele Reed
FB: Fit Doc Wellness Group
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.