[Intersection Podcast] Episode 005 - Trailblazer, Pioneer, and Bioengineer

Hosted by Bobby Rettew, MA

Meredith Owen Headshot

We identified numerous narratives showcasing visual stories that would inspire individuals to take the next steps to change the world. During the creative process, we knew telling a story of a bioengineering researcher helping a young boy with a lower limb prosthetic find comfort while walking and running would be a compelling story.

What we found was something far more interesting and compelling. I met researcher and PhD candidate Meredith Owen, who we cast for this story. Her work is amazing, but what was more amazing is her passion to help people, lower limb amputees, real people in dire need of comfort.

In a 2016 study by a MIT sociologist, 20 percent of undergraduate engineering degrees are awarded to women, but only 13 percent of the engineering workforce is female. Meredith Owen is changing the face of the profession providing a rich intersection inside the story we crafted for Clemson. We purposefully chose a smart female bioengineering researcher so other high school teenage girls could see themselves as future engineers.

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Bobby Rettew: Intersection is brought to you by Social Health Institute. Exploring new and innovative ways for hospitals and healthcare organizations to develop and enhance their social media and digital marketing strategies. Learn more at socialhealthinstitute.com.

Meredith Owen: Finding something you want to do and go do it, it doesn’t matter who’s done it before you.

Bobby Rettew: Welcome to Intersection. I’m Bobby Rettew. In 2017, Dr. Anand Gramopadhye, Dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences asked Gray Digital Group storytelling team to craft a series of stories, inspiring the next generation of engineers to attend Clemson University. We identified numerous narratives showcasing visual stories that would inspire individuals to take the next steps to change the world.

Bobby Rettew: During the creative process, we knew telling a story of a bio engineering researcher helping a young boy with a lower limb prosthetic find comfort while walking and running would be a compelling story. What we found with something far more interesting and compelling. I met researcher and PhD candidate Meredith Owen, who we cast for this story.

Bobby Rettew: Her work is amazing. But what is more amazing is her passion to help people, lower limb amputees, real people in dire need of comfort. A 2016 study by an MIT sociologists, 20% of undergraduate engineering degrees are awarded to women, but only 13% of the engineering workforce is female. Meredith Owen is changing the face of the profession, providing a rich intersection inside the story re-crafted for Clemson. We purposely chose a smart female bio engineering researcher so other high school teenage girls could see themselves as future engineers. So, introduce yourself. Who are you?

Meredith Owen: I’m Meredith Owen, I’m a second year just finishing up my second year in graduate school at Clemson University. I’m in the bio engineering department there. I like the outdoors, long walks on the beach, if we’re going to get cliché, reading, running anything else?

Bobby Rettew: Oh, no.

Meredith Owen: Yeah, I know for me.

Bobby Rettew: So, you and I started working together. The first time that I’ve found you, was I was doing research for a series of videos to promote engineering at Clemson University.
Meredith Owen: Yes.

Bobby Rettew: I’m trying to remember how we found you. I think it was one of my former students in the MBA program said, “You need to go talk to Meredith.

Meredith Owen: I don’t know. I know that I got an email from my advisor saying, “Hey, we’re having this meeting about prosthetics. They’re interested in doing videos.” I don’t even know if that had been said at that point. But that’s the research area that I work in. So, he asked me to sit in on the meeting, and that was the first meeting we had. At that point, I thought you guys were looking to do a single day film in the lab and like, “Hey, here’s let’s set up a mock experiment and run that.” So, that’s what I think I thought it was at that point.
Meredith Owen: That is not what it was. Not in a bad way. But that’s in a better way.

Bobby Rettew: It was in a better way.

Meredith Owen: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: So, let’s talk about bio engineering.

Meredith Owen: Yes.

Bobby Rettew: So, what is bio engineering?

Meredith Owen: To me, people will give you different definitions. but to me, the way I like to summarize it, is it’s a combination of several different disciplines that arose as a need arose. As healthcare has become, I guess, increasingly utilized and the advancements in healthcare have been … People are living longer, I guess, bioengineering is that perfect mesh of, we take mechanical, we take electrical, we take the sciences, biology and chemistry and you mash them all together to solve these healthcare issues.

Meredith Owen: Whether that’s using mechanical engineering skills and techniques to solve problems with joint mechanics, or whether that’s taking different aspects of chemistry and biology and material science and bio-materials and meshing that all together to solve different issues with the soft tissues or even such things as people who have heart defects or long defects.

Meredith Owen: But when you break it down, we’re using the base engineering knowledge to solve those problems. To me, that’s how I like to summarize it. It’s an intersection of a bunch of different fields.

Bobby Rettew: Obviously, bioengineering is a very large, complex field inside engineering, because there’s so many aspects. What is your niche? What do you work on?

Meredith Owen: I like mechanics. I like large stuff. I like things that I can touch and feel. I work specifically in biomechanics injuries. I broke a lot of bones as a kid. I played a lot of sports. I think if you talk to anybody who does the mechanics side of bioengineering, they’ll probably tell you one of those two things if not both. So, that led me into wanting to know more about how the body worked in that sense. So, how it moves as a machine and how the joints work, and then from there, I continued to refine what I was interested in, and what eventually led me to lower limb prosthetic technologies and the biomechanics behind lower limb prosthetics.

Bobby Rettew: Let’s talk about lower limb, what does that mean? For the average person that doesn’t know or understand what you’re talking about, describe that.

Meredith Owen: Lower limb, your legs. Upper limb would be your arms. So, I focus mainly on the lower body, your lower limbs. If you’re talking about an amputee population there too. Main groups that you typically hear about, there’s several others, but the two main groups would be a transtibial, which would be any amputation below the knee, and in the middle of the leg, and then a transfemoral, which should be any amputation above the knee between the knee and the hip. There are several others depending on if you’re in a joint, or outside of the joint. But the main ones we look at our the transtibial and transfemoral.

Bobby Rettew: Tell me a little bit about your focus, your research focus.

Meredith Owen: My research focus is on pressure mitigation and lower limb prosthetics. Our lower limb prosthetic is composed of three main parts, which would be a prosthetic socket. The connection between the residual limb and the device, the full prosthetic device is the socket. That’s really a very custom design. It’s really an art form if you talk to a lot of prostheses, which are the people that fit these devices on an amputee. It’s very much an art form for them, as well as a science. So, it’s a really cool mix of the both.

Meredith Owen: A pylon which connects the socket and that simulates how long your limb would be. And then a foot. So, what to walk on. So, we really look at the socket part of the prosthesis, and how to better design it so that we can mitigate some pressure that patients may feel in their residual limb. If you walk on it for eight hours a day, minimum or maximum, it’s putting a lot of pressure, or stress, or even discomfort on these residual limbs that’s not typical.

Meredith Owen: We have feet, and our feet are specifically designed to walk on and you touch your heel, it’s hard. It’s a callus spot. But when you move up and if you’re looking at an amputee, it’s a lot of soft tissue. That soft tissue is not necessarily meant to be loaded in the way that it’s loaded for a prosthetic device. So, we’re looking at taking the internal surface of the socket and looking at how we can redesign it, or incorporate different technologies to improve the comfort mainly, for the patient, for the amputee.

Bobby Rettew: This is one area when we started working together, that obviously, I was very ignorant. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about. It was very much an exploration for me. And second is, I never thought about that connection point between the body and the prosthetic, the socket. Where it goes … And I’m going to describe what you’re talking about, it’s the socket is literally like a socket. You put your lower part of your leg into something and it sits like you describe.

Bobby Rettew: I never thought that when someone is an amputee, each amputee is different. It comes in different places and in different forms, and the bone that’s there has to rest on something. I imagine that is very, very uncomfortable for people to manage that, when that was never meant to bear the load if you think of it in those terms.

Meredith Owen: Most definitely. It’s hard to speak on how a population feels because I don’t wear a prosthesis, I’m not and amputee. But in the anecdotal evidence, when we talk to these patients, or when we talk to these amputees, that’s one of the things you see commonly. You see it in clinical reports too of different injuries that are caused by the loading scenarios that are atypical of standard human walking, or standard walking.

Meredith Owen: Yeah, it’s one of those things where for us, for me specifically, I can’t feel what this population is feeling. So, there’s always the need to reach out to talk and to find members of the population that can actually provide useful information for us, so that we can design something better. So it’s not just us in a lab trying to figure stuff out.

Meredith Owen: I think a lot of bioengineering is that way, and you see it across the whole field, is it’s not just us sitting in labs doing work, it’s people going out and talking to doctors, people going out and talking to patients, people going out and talking to clinicians, and getting that anecdotal feedback, and that personal feedback, and then taking that back into the lab and using that information to inform design. So, for us, it’s extremely important because there’s no way for me to feel what a member of that population would be feeling in our designs.

Bobby Rettew: My graduate study was audience analysis, and really diving into understanding audience. The part of audience analysis in the design world is UX, user centered design. How can you create something that fits the user in the space that they can interact with it in a way that doesn’t seem like the technology gets in the way?

Bobby Rettew: When I think about you UCX, especially with all the work that I do in photography and cameras, form factor is huge for us. So, when you think about purchasing cameras in my world, form factor, the way that you hold the camera is very personal. I pick cameras based on how they feel in my hand, how comfortable they are. When I buy a new camera, I accept the fact that even though I selected a good form factor, that I’m going to probably have a little bit of carpal tunnel for a while, because my hand is getting used to it. I squeeze and hold and do things for a while.
Bobby Rettew: So, you know the engineers have spent years thinking about how that works. That’s just for something that we purchased on a consumer level. So, would you say that now there’s very much this intentionality of user centered design when it comes to something that you have to live with?
Meredith Owen: Most definitely.

Bobby Rettew: Talk about that experience of, maybe there’s a shift in the way that prosthetics have been built over the years. Maybe, let’s talk about the background of that a little bit.
Meredith Owen: Again, not being a prosthetist and only have been involved in this field for a few years now, I’m still consider myself a newbie, but from what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard, and what I’ve read, there has been a pretty big shift. This goes across medicine from this one size fits all, or a size based design, to how can we really get accustomed to the patient? And how can we really get accustomed to the user in an attempt to-

Meredith Owen: To the user in an attempt to improve things such as outcome measures, or user comfort, or even just user experience, whether that’s comfort, discomfort, pain, the process of receiving a device, anything like that. While prosthetics is kind of an niche area, because it’s always had to be custom, you can’t take a circle and fit it in a square peg kind of deal, if your socket doesn’t fit the limb and it doesn’t mate well, there’s not going to be good connection. It’s not going to work. So there always has been this element of customization to prosthetics and orthotics, and to the design of a prosthesis, but I think over the years and especially now, people are looking to take advantage of some of the technologies that exist to better customize. So 3D printing, 3D scanning, just different methods, computer, CAD design, different methods to really get at how can we make this shape match better, what can we do to better design a prosthetic socket, to improve patient comfort.

Meredith Owen: There are even people looking to eliminate the socket altogether, so let’s just load through the bone, and it’s a process called osseointegration and basically it is what it is. You integrate the prosthesis into the bone and you eliminate the socket altogether. So that’s still very new. There are clinical studies, there are people out there with these osseointegrated sockets now, but the majority of the patients and the majority of the population of prosthetic users still use the standard socket based device. But yeah, I think we see a lot of that in all areas of health care and just kind of being immersed in bio engineering, and seeing those around me, working in all different fields, it’s no longer acceptable to just have, here’s your large, I don’t know, knee implant. You’re close enough to it, we’ll use that.

Meredith Owen: I mean, there’s really been scale down to … while they’re still kind of size based, you’re getting this increased scale and just increased technology in order to … I mean, you got access to CT scans and MRIs, and you can really break down the anatomy, and custom design something for someone like you couldn’t 50 years ago, or 60 years ago.

Bobby Rettew: I was fascinated that you really work on a piece that goes inside the socket to spread the load throughout the socket, so that it evenly distributes the pressure from the person’s lower limb into that socket, so they don’t have … so they’re not uncomfortable. You don’t want one side of your leg to hurt because it’s bearing all the load. Talk about that piece that you build, you work in, to really … is it a comfort measure or is it … what are you doing there?

Meredith Owen: Yeah, so what we look to do, our design needs specific what we have termed kind of inlays or inserts that are an addition to the socket, so they don’t actually change anything about how the current prosthesis is designed or put together. It really just kind of adds a component to it, in an attempt to, like you said, better distribute the forces that a residual limb would feel. So some of the common problems that patients will have are these bony prominence areas. So if you’re feeling your shin, it’s pretty … I mean, the bone’s right there, there’s not a lot of skin or tissue separating it from anything. So if you’ve got a hard plastic or a hard carbon fiber socket up against that, and there’s no offloading or things of that nature, then you may get kind of these pressure points, and that happens at several different locations in the socket.

Meredith Owen: Prosthetists do take these locations into account and they design the socket around those. So using different methods to change the shape of the socket, so that you’re offloading for these points. So we’re just trying to add another step to that. So kind of increment that change one step further so that we’ve got a hard socket, we can put something soft in it that’s really specific and really custom to the residual limb anatomy of a patient. Then that way, we can further distribute this weight and increase the comfort for wearing the socket.

Bobby Rettew: It’s almost like, I’m going to over simplify this, it’s almost like having a special thing to put in your shoe-
Meredith Owen: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: -for when I run, if my … you know, my arch has been killing me. You know, and I kind of looked at it and I thought about it like, man, if I had this lower limb issue and I had a prosthetic, and it was just so uncomfortable, it was hard to get into, I wouldn’t want to leave my house.

Meredith Owen: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: It could be debilitating, you know?

Meredith Owen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bobby Rettew: So what fascinates me about that is people have decided to choose this line of work. So how did you get here? Bring us to the back story. You were playing golf at Mercer University. How did you get to Clemson, to work on lower limb sockets? Let’s talk about that a little bit.

Meredith Owen: Yeah, so it’s not as convoluted as I guess one path may be. I was at Mercer, I majored in bio medical engineering there. They’re very similar, just terminologies, one word means the other, basically. I was looking for something to do over the summer, kind of expand my knowledge, get some experience, just try something new. So the summer after my junior year I joined a summer program through Mercer University where we were able to go to Vietnam and work in clinics there, with the lower limb amputee population, so fitting sockets and there was a medical clinic involved.

Meredith Owen: So it was basically a month long, month and a half long program where I learned a lot of the basics of hey, this is what a prosthetic device is, this is what a prosthesis is, this is how you may design one for someone. Again, it was a crash course and I’m by no means at all qualified to fit someone for a prosthesis. That’s an awesome program and something I would love to learn more about. But I did get this kind of more in depth, more close look at what are the issues, and what even is a prosthesis, ’cause I think like a lot of people, I didn’t know anyone that was an amputee, or if I did, they were not a close relative. So you don’t know what you don’t know.

Meredith Owen: in that experience and through that month long trip I really kind of … I guess it spurred my interest in this specific design problem, which is really what it is, at the basis is a design problem. That’s like what all of engineering is, is kind of a design problem. It’s a process of figuring out the solution to something. So from that … I came back to Mercer, finished out my senior year and started thinking well, what do I want to do. I’m going to graduate, I have to do something and didn’t think I wanted to go work. So I started looking at other opportunities and graduate school kind of jumped on my radar. One of the things that I thought was I really enjoyed this experience in Vietnam, I really enjoyed working with this specific problem, I love bio mechanics, I think that’s what I’d like to do, where can I go do that.

Meredith Owen: So that’s kind of how I got hooked up with my advisor at Clemson, Dr. John DesJardins, and he kind of pitched this project idea and it really was a perfect match of my interests and my abilities. I’m not going to say I’ve always wanted to go to Clemson, but I definitely have … my parents are both Clemson alumni, and so it was kind of a perfect fit of, hey, I get to go be a Tiger and I get to work on stuff that really interests me and stuff that I’m really kind of passionate about.

Bobby Rettew: Now a quick break to give a quick shout out to the network that supports Intersection, Touchpoint Media, a collection of podcasts dedicated to discussions on all things health care, including digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, CIO and technology strategies, the challenges of the online physician, the power of the e-patient, and most importantly, the power of story telling. To learn more, go to Touchpoint.health, that is Touchpoint.health. Let’s rejoin the show.

Bobby Rettew: When I talked to the licensing board who used to be my client, NCEES, whatever the national of licensing group, they’re in Clemson, basically a cross of discipline, they are trying to find ways to attract young girls into engineering. Do you think that your story has an opportunity to engage young girls and other women to say I want to do that? And I can do that, and I’m just as smart, and I can knock it out of the park too?

Meredith Owen: Yeah. I mean, I would hope so. I think it’s always good for … people feel like they can do, I guess, I would hope anybody would feel like they could do whatever they could do and they were in a situation to think that, but I know that’s not always the case. So I mean, if it could reach one person, one girl that thought hey, maybe this isn’t a field for me but this is what I like to do, and you see that video or you see a video like it and think, oh, well that person’s doing it, I can do it. That would be awesome, it’d be great. I think as engineers, and as a female engineer I not only have a responsibility towards what I’m doing now or the research I’m doing now, but I’d also like to think that I have a responsibility towards engaging those kids or those high school students that think, hey, maybe that’s not for me. But they have this interest and they think they want to do it, but they just think they can’t. For whatever reason, I would like if something like this, it’s just short three minute video, but if a three minute video is all it takes to get someone interested in it, and spur their interest and make them think they can do it, then I think it’s worth it. It’s done what it’s supposed to do.

Bobby Rettew: So what stories have inspired you to do this? Now you talked about you went to Vietnam, was there a story that happened there, did you meet someone, or was it the engineering that inspired you? Or is there other stories out there that have inspired you to get where you are, that are the driving force?

Meredith Owen: Yeah, I unfortunately don’t think I have one of those Hollywood instances where I saw something. It was like, that’s what I want to do, or that’s the moment that inspired me. I do think it’s a lot of little things, and meeting a lot of different people, and knowing a lot of people personally that have always believed that I could do what I wanted to do. So I’ve been very lucky in that instance that I say I want to go be an engineer, you know, those people around me, that support system that I have, have always been like, yeah, go do it, you can. Or if I had said I want to go paint in Europe. Even though I got kicked out of the art club, they would have been like, yeah, you can go do it.

Meredith Owen: So I’ve just been lucky, personally, to have a support system that’s helped me realize that I can do whatever I want to do, and then that in combination with these different activities that I’ve had access to, or these different experiences that I’ve had access to that have really inspired me to keep going. Some days when it’s tough at school and I’m like, why am I doing what I’m doing, or why I’m in grad school, you know, why don’t I do something else, I’ll think back to some of the days in Vietnam that were so hard, and so hot, it’s 105 degrees and we were out there for 13 hours a day or whatever we were doing, I’ll think back to that and think yeah, that was tough, but I look back on that with such positive memories that it makes me think, this is important, what I’m doing is important.

Meredith Owen: As you meet people, there’s a reason why I’m … and I think that’s the biggest thing that’s inspired me to go to engineering, and specifically bio engineering, is I can see the immediate impact of what we’re doing and I think that’s across the field. We have people working on …

Meredith Owen: … across the field you know. We have people working on different implants. You break a bone, they’re redesigning plates and screws and knee implants and knee joints and all these things and you kind of can see that immediate impact or you have surgeons come talk to you and say, “Hey, this is a problem we’re having, can you help with it?” You get to see kind of that immediate impact, that immediate effect that research can have on a population. Now there’s FDA and getting something out there takes forever, but you can kind of see that immediate impact, which I liked a lot and it was something I always wanted when I was looking.

Bobby Rettew: When we started working on this video project, how did that shape your viewpoint of the discipline, because up until this point, and I’ve kind of purposely asked these questions this way, you’ve been very logical about this. Here’s a problem, I’m going to fix it, so let’s get in the lab and let’s just show that. Then we want to go out and shoot beautiful pictures and this and you’re going like what?

Meredith Owen: Oh yeah.

Bobby Rettew: Talk about what that experience was like when we started working on this project and started designing what the story was going to be like.

Meredith Owen: Yeah. It was definitely unexpected, just because I guess I had no basis for what was going on. You get CC’d on an email and you show up for a meeting and then a year later it’s a really cool project and a really cool video that hopefully is having the impact that we want. I think it is. Yeah, being an engineer I was like okay, they want to film a video about what we do, we’ll just set up an experiment in the lab that is something we actually are currently doing and they’ll film that. I think what I’ve learned through this is that what I think bioengineering is is because I’m in it, and if you’re outside of it and looking in, you don’t really know. It can be difficult to grasp.

Meredith Owen: Telling it in a story format makes it a little bit easier to understand or even get involved with. It’s just different. You’re not going to, I don’t want to say you’re not going to attract people if you just film someone in a lab coat running a basic experiment but it’s not the full story of what we do. I guess that’s kind of where I wasn’t making the connection is there’s a lot more that we do that I just don’t think about on a day, it’s not even what we do, but there’s a lot more involved and a lot more adjacent to what we do than what I think about.

Meredith Owen: Sometimes I get locked up in my little lab hole doing data analysis or running the same experiment however many times we need for significance or what have you. You forget that there’s a point, you don’t forget, you just kind of momentarily forget, I guess, that’s there’s a larger picture surrounding the whole thing. I get stuck in the little center and I forget about the large circle of kind of connected points that affect the story as well. We wouldn’t be doing what we were doing if this population didn’t exist.

Meredith Owen: There’s people that are affected at the end point, there’s people that are affected at the beginning point, there’s people that are affected throughout the middle. I guess that was the biggest thing for me, like looking back over how the video turned out and why you guys look to approach it the way you did. That’s why I’m not a storyteller. If it were me, they would have been launching three minutes of me in a lab coat doing data analysis or processing some stuff.

Bobby Rettew: I’m not saying that that would not be the best way to do it, just a different way. Yeah. Big question, what inspires you?

Meredith Owen: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: What gets you up in the morning?
Meredith Owen: I think just the thought of doing something that’s for more than just me, knowing that hopefully what I’m doing day in and day out would impact people other than me. I wanted to be a doctor and that’s kind of where I initially got into bioengineering, because a lot of people do go into bioengineering and then go into medical school. When I first started that was something that I thought I wanted to do, is go to medical school. As I got through it I was like I don’t have to go be a doctor to directly impact patients.

Meredith Owen: For me, if I’m having a tough day in the lab or thinking why continue, or not even why continue but I’m just getting frustrated, I think that was a cool scene too, because that is definitely something that I do a lot is get frustrated. Things don’t work the first time and it’s easy to get frustrated but just knowing that hopefully one day, whether it’s here and something I do in the future, something that will have an impact on a population. Even if it’s just one person, you have an impact on one person more than yourself then I feel like you’ve done good in the world.

Bobby Rettew: Last question and then we’ll kind of wrap this up.
Meredith Owen: Okay.

Bobby Rettew: We’re sitting in my office and obviously there’s pictures of my kids everywhere, because when you’re a proud dad you’re a proud dad.
Meredith Owen: Yeah, as you should.

Bobby Rettew: As you should be. There’s a picture of my daughter sitting, a picture I took, and she’s sitting up there with her little princess dress on and she has her little princess crown. She’s smart as a whip. If you could speak to the Roses of the world …

Meredith Owen: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: … what would you tell them about, and I’m going to frame this question because I’m being very intentional about this question, this is not a political conversation but it gives you a frame of why I’m going to ask this question.
Meredith Owen: Okay.

Bobby Rettew: When the presidential election came the last time, there was a businessman vs a lady, Hilary vs President Trump. Through that whole deal Rose would watch. We were watching the debates, we were watching all that stuff and obviously there’s a lot of national discussion between those two narratives. Rose looked at me one day and she goes, “Daddy, do you think she’ll be president?” I said, “I think she can be.” She was like, “Do you think I could do that?”

Bobby Rettew: The next day we were watching soccer and it was a bunch of guys playing soccer and she was like, “Daddy, can I play soccer?” I was like, “Absolutely.” I went and found a women’s soccer game and replaced it. The next day she looked and we were watching Sports Center and she looks up and there are two ladies and one male …

Meredith Owen: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: …leading morning Sports Center and she looked at me and goes, “Daddy, a girl can do that,” so I ask that question and I was very intentional about this project to pick a female because I felt like this would be a place to intersect engineering and my daughter could do it. I feel like I’m playing that out in this a little bit.

Meredith Owen: Okay.

Bobby Rettew: If you could speak to those girls that are watching the TVs and they’re seeing women in spaces that my generation never saw women, what would you say to those Rosebuds of the world?

Meredith Owen: Yeah. I mean I would initially say it’s completely possible now, and especially in the future for you to do anything you want to do. I think traditionally and even now I’m so lucky to be where I am now because I’ve never had to really worry about not being able to do something because of my gender, you know, the fact that I’m female instead of male. Just to know that if you don’t see a female in a position but you like that position, go be the first one to do it. No one’s telling you you can’t any more, or no one should be telling you you can’t. So find something you want to do and it doesn’t matter who’s done it before you, go do it.

Meredith Owen: I think hopefully things are changing so that that becomes more evident. I mean, I do think it’s really telling, you turn on ESPN and probably 80 percent of the time it’s a male sport. There’s female sports but they’re on ESPN 2. The WNBA Championship doesn’t get nearly the press that the NBA Championship gets. I mean, there’s no professional softball league, so there’s no real comparison there but the women’s soccer team, they had the huge argument and they fought for equal pay because they don’t get it.

Meredith Owen: The LPGA Tour, I play golf so that’s the one I know about. I mean, the purse prizes on that or even the exposure to those tournaments, minuscule compared to the amount of press that the PGA Tour gets. I think in the past, and sports are just an easy one to relate to because everyone watches sports or most people watch sports and so you see it there but then that can transfer into other things. If you see only men doing something you may think, oh well I can’t do it and I think that’s a good point there, is that switch between like hey daddy, can I do that to hey daddy, I can do that.
Meredith Owen: It’s a switch from a question to a statement and that’s what I would tell any young girl or anybody really that’s looking to find something they want to do, is find something you want to do and go do it. It doesn’t matter who’s done it before you.

Bobby Rettew: Are you a pioneer?

Meredith Owen: I don’t think I am, no.

Bobby Rettew: Why not?

Meredith Owen: Because there have been people before me that I’ve looked to to say they’ve done it. I mean, there have always been people that have, there’s always been those pioneers and those ground breakers, and I think they would probably all maybe say no, there’s always been someone before me. I think that’s the case. There’s always been someone that’s fought for what they believe in, so it doesn’t really matter. I think it’s becoming, as much as people talk about the media, you see things, we have access to information like no other generation has had.

Meredith Owen: Pull up your phone, you can access anything you want, you can Google anything you want, you can watch anything you want on YouTube so I think that’s important too, is just because you don’t right off see somebody doing something that you want to do, you can probably find it. You can go look for it and if you don’t see it, don’t take that as a negative of that’s something I can’t do, take it as a positive of hey let me go make that, let me go create that space.

Meredith Owen: Somebody, I don’t know if it’s even a quote or if I heard it from someone, but the concept of preparing for a job that may not exist yet, which is super cool, and the thought that your daughter could potentially be in a job that we haven’t even thought about right now. There’s so many things you don’t know what’s going to happen. I think that’s important too, is don’t take what other people say as limitations. Don’t take what you see other people doing as limitations.

Bobby Rettew: Ladies and gentlemen, Meredith Owen.

Meredith Owen: Yeah.

Bobby Rettew: Thank you.

Meredith Owen: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Bobby Rettew: Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed the conversation and exploration. Most importantly the many intersections inside the world of storytelling. Intersection is powered by Touch Point Media Network. Podcast dedicated to discussions on all things healthcare. Go to touchpoint.health for many other podcasts exploring digital marketing and online patient engagement strategies, CIO, technology strategies, the challenges of the online physician, the power of the e-patient and most importantly, the power of storytelling. To learn more, go to touchpoint.health. That is, touchpoint.health. Have a good day.

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