Death Row Health Care (Stand-Up Comedy)

I just moved to NYC (part-time two weeks each month) on January 1, 2020 to help physician residents who are struggling there and to continue to address the doctor suicide crisis and empower physicians and medical students nationwide. Thought I’d try a little stand-up comedy (just for a fun hobby—work-life balance, ya know!).

I still practice medicine in Eugene, Oregon, in an ideal clinic that was designed entirely by my patients. I offer 24/7 telemedicine, house calls, plus office visits in my new downtown office and, of course, I’ll see patients when and where it is most comfortable for them. I also continue to run a suicide helpline for doctors and spend much of my time addressing hazardous working conditions in medical institutions. I speak widely on the physician suicide crisis and love mentoring and inspiring the next generation of doctors.

I continue to be committed—through keynote addresses, commencement speeches, white papers, journal articles, TV news interviews, and now a little stand-up—to reaching a wider audience with the message of compassionate health care transformation.

Here’s a little peek into my personal experience during medical training on death row. . .

I went to med school in Texas. And Texas is #1 in executions! I attended a world-famous school. It’s the only med school in the world—inside a prison hospital. (I think they should’ve mentioned that when I applied). I show up. I’m 21 years old and my patients are rapists and serial killers. But here’s the upside, when it came to appointments all of them were there—on time

Another perk. My tuition was subsidized by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, so my death row criminals, they paid for their crimes—and my education.

It was so bizarre that I was learning how to give rectal exams on murderers. Shocking actually. Prostate feels good. Cholesterol’s up. Wait, that could kill ya. It was crazy ordering heart-healthy meals for guys on death row. To graduate on time I had to keep them alive till we killed them.

To give you some perspective, I had just spent the last four years at Wellesley—an elite all women’s college, so I hadn’t been with men in like forever. Now I’m on the front line dealing with America’s most wanted—rectums. And I had the most wanted—finger. Imagine: I’m this idealistic, caring young lady—with my finger up the ass of a serial killer. Two big guards behind me. Kinda hot. Right? I’m thinking, “Isn’t this every woman’s fantasy?” Truly I was the most wanted by the most wanted.

So I was vegan at the time and very determined to help all my patients eat healthy. As you can imagine, it was really difficult to convince these guys to eat less meat and more vegetables. I mean these guys were real carnivores. A couple were cannibals. I’m talking kale smoothies. And they’re thinking I’d love to eat her elbow.

Death row health care—that’s an oxymoron. I deal with a lot of oxymorons and morons on Oxy.

In Oregon I’m licensed to perform physician-assisted suicides. In Texas physicians are able to perform physician-assisted homicides (Yes, they actually have physicians in the execution chambers in Texas! Crazy right?). So I feel really comfortable practicing in both Oregon & Texas because in both states I can legally kill you. (Unreal!)

I have so much more to share about my experience growing up as the child of two physician parents and so many other events that have shaped who I am and allowed me to be so innovative in my care of patients and my suffering colleagues. Many of those stories (including my ethical dilemmas practicing medicine as a student doctor on death row) can be found in my first book: Pet Goats & Pap Smears.

Stay tuned. More to come . . .

Want to talk? Contact Dr. Wible here.

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15 comments on “Death Row Health Care (Stand-Up Comedy)
  1. Alan J. Cohn, MD says:

    I enjoyed your cc presentation and hearing about where life has taken you. Thanks for your service to patients and colleagues. NY’s gain is Oregon’s loss.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Oh thank you! I am officially BICOASTAL so a gain to both coasts (since the suicide crisis is bicoastal – and in the middle too)

      • Eliza Randall says:

        AWESOME! I loved your comedy set.

        Congratulations on your (part-time) move to NYC. Keep on inspiring us all on both coasts.

  2. M says:

    Dear Pamela,

    People actually commit some crimes to get into level one prison to get cable tv and healthcare. In the meantime deductibles are sky high for the good citizens. Doctors need to unionize. Crime pays in this country.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Yet another contradiction!!!! I’ll keep the pressure on. We can’t solve this without discussing these foundational flaws. All leads back to mental health wounds I’m sure.

  3. cheryl iverson says:

    this world of contradictions.

  4. Kris Parnicky says:

    Congratulations on the new career! Let me know when you first DVD comes out.

  5. Kris Knudsen says:

    Wow, this is incredible. A doctor who does comedy. What would be a medical sounding name for this? Something ologist? What’s the medical term for laughing or incurable laughing?

    Also when you said you were bi-coastal, and made the other Oregon jokes, I thought there might be a joke in there about so many poly-amorous people in Eugene, but instead, you’re poly-coastal.

    Keep up the good work. Feel free to turn those into any kind of jokes you like.

  6. Irvin Schonfeld, Ph.D., M.P.H. says:

    ​Pamela,

    I saw your act. You killed.

    Irvin

  7. Charisse Hudson-Quigley MD, SC says:

    Its official. You are hands-down, without a doubt the BRAVEST woman on the planet!!!

  8. Victor Rozek says:

    Great Job, Pamela! Well paced and definitely funny. You’ve been practicing!
    Can’t wait for the next performance…

  9. Richard silverstone says:

    Great debut. So if this doctoring thing doesn’t work out…

  10. Mrs Midge Maizel got nothin on you Pamela!

  11. wolfdreamer says:

    You are amazing, funny lady. Never knew you possessed this talent too. hope to see you in March at the ELF fair in Grants Pass hugs and blessings.

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