Jeanne Rosner: From Pediatric Anesthesiologist to Nutrition Educator
Why did you make your latest transition?
I was working as a pediatric anesthesiologist. I don’t think I was dissatisfied at work. I loved my colleagues, patients and their families. But it was stressful. My son was in 5th grade and I asked his teacher if I could go teach in his class. I had always been into health and wellness—I wanted to talk about that with a focus on nutrition. I created a curriculum of eight lessons, taught it and loved it. It was my “aha moment” and I knew I had found what I wanted to do. I didn’t learn much about nutrition in medical school, so I had to learn it for myself to teach it to students.
What are you doing now?
For eight years, I have been teaching in my community and have learned so much. My lessons have evolved. I’m eternally grateful for my son’s 5th grade science teacher who initially welcomed me and I still teach in her class and throughout the community. I do lessons in schools and focus on health and wellness with an emphasis on diet. I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey. About three or so years into the teaching I felt like I wanted to do a little bit more so I came up with the idea to hold events in my community. I came up with the name and I created a website – it’s called Soul Food Salon – Seasonal Organic Unprocessed Local. The mission is to empower us all to be healthier. I wasn’t sure how many people would come, but a neighbor of mine who did something similar out of her home told me “if one person comes to your event then you’ve taught one person.” For the earlier events, I arranged for talks in my living room and cooking in my kitchen. Recently, I moved out of the house into a church recreation room because it has expanded tremendously.
What surprised you most about the transition?
The thing that’s really interesting to me is I was a premed undergraduate, then went to medical school and then residency work. There was so much structure and framework to my day—even though each patient was different. What I love most about what I’m doing now is there’s no structure or predictability unless it’s self-imposed. I’m allowing it to organically evolve. Whether it’s meeting people, going to a conference or doing a food challenge. That has been very freeing and fun. I’m learning and I’m curious and I’m hoping that the energy I have translates to the people I’m interacting with. I was very much on the western medicine path. I’m not against it, but I do think that nutrition, socialization, community, mindfulness, and sleep are also important to health and wellness.
I left anesthesia not really knowing the path, but I let life evolve and it has been very enjoyable. Having the freedom to purse what I want to pursue feels like the best kind of surprise. I have an unbelievably supportive husband and family, so I do what I do because I can. I’m learning and giving back.
How did you decide to pursue these opportunities?
One day I saw a Facebook post that an old friend of mine had put up announcing that she was a newly-minted life coach. I talked to her and she wanted me to create a vision board—just get a poster board and cut out things in magazines that talked to me. I cut things out that were important to me and when I looked at it I saw it was all about staying in shape, eating healthy, staying well, teaching, and striking a balance. It shed light on what I cared about. I always taught in the Operating Room, but I wanted to put the rest of it together. I still look at my vision board at least once a day. In medicine, I wasn’t balanced. My days were long and they could go into the night. I have more control now and considerable balance.
What advice would you give to someone in the same circumstances?
One would be to take a look at your life. What do you do on a daily basis? What do you enjoy? How can you incorporate more of it into your days? That might help you think more about what you want to spend your time doing. Maybe making a vision board would give you a revelation. Also, talking to a life coach—an objective person to prod you and help you think out of the box—could help too. There are “Design Your Life” classes available online and in person and organizations to help people start over. There are workbooks too. Delving into what you want to do next is daunting, but important.
Given your vast experience both professionally and personally, do you have a top 5 or 10 list of things that you would tell people if they would like to follow in your footsteps or follow a similar path?
-There is not a straight path in anyone’s life. Take some detours. Embrace turns. Learn from them and make them a growth experience.
-Find what inspires you and then find a group of people who share your interest. The sense of community is exponentially important.
-Learning and being curious is crucial. Seek out great resources—conferences, literature and online.
-Pick work that suits your other goals – family, social and others.
-Seek out someone to hear you out. Find a support system to be a sounding board and to go on your journey with you.
-Pursue balance—along with your passions and interests. When you’re not in balance your body senses it and inflammation and disease can occur. Sleep, move and be mindful. Eat nutritiously. You need it all.
Jeanne Rosner, MD is a board certified anesthesiologist who practiced at Stanford Medical Center for approximately 15 years. Since retiring from anesthesia, she has been a nutrition educator at local middle and high schools throughout the Bay area. She teaches these students the importance of eating food closest to the source, making good food choices and eating in a balanced and moderate way. In addition, Dr. Rosner started a venture called SOUL (seasonal, organic, unprocessed, local) Food Salon in 2014. She holds small gatherings (salons) with the mission of educating and empowering people to be healthier. The salons feature an expert in the health and wellness community who speaks about an interesting health topic. There are also salons with a chef/physician doing cooking demonstrations while using local and seasonal ingredients.