Written by Patricia Turnier LL.M.   
Monday, 04 November 2013 17:56

Dr. Allen is a multiple specialist physician born in the United States. His late parents were a urologist (father) and a registered nurse (mother). Dr. Allen grew up on a farm and shares a passion for animals. He was seriously thinking to become a veterinarian. Thus, he went to University of California and obtained a B.S. in zoology in 1982. Eventually, he switched his orientation and enrolled in medical school. He earned his medical degree in 1986 from Northwestern University-Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago. He subsequently did his general surgery and urology residency at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. He specialized in urologic oncology and was the awarded chief resident in 1991. Hence, he became a urologist who specialized in cancerous diseases of the urinary tract. He coordinated efforts with State Boards and Pennsylvania Health Departments in order to assure patient safety. As of 1986, he provided acute and chronic care in response to life-threatening medical emergencies, routine healthcare and patient education. He conveyed three successful practices. 

In 1998, an unfortunate accident occurred while Dr. Allen was operating on an elderly patient who had a large kidney tumor amongst other medical complications. During the removal of the patient’s kidney, Dr. Allen’s life dramatically changed in a split-second (after years of hard work) and he had a near-death experience. He got electrocuted by a cautery device used to seal off blood vessels. He suffered a traumatic brain injury (including memory loss, concussion, chronic lethargy…) and had to get the appropriate health professionals to help treat his condition. It was a very difficult road. As a patient, Dr. Allen was prescribed multiple medications (taking a total of 36 pills per day), which created side effects. He suffered many other injuries, including hand and arm nerve damage, heart damage, and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. He also experienced petit mal seizures, his left arm muscles atrophied almost to the bone, etc. It took him years to recover. He needed to go through physiotherapy and psychology sessions among the many treatments.

It is important to mention that, when the accident occurred, at 38, Dr. Allen was at the height of his medical career. He served as Chairman of the Department of Urology and Vice Chairman of Surgery for Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where he led over 400 physicians and gained experience in corporate-style management and operations. He was also running a very successful private practice in a small community in Pennsylvania when, suddenly, everything changed.

Eaten by the Tiger chronicles Dr. Emile Allen’s journey. He candidly shares many aspects of his life, including what his parents meant to him. He writes about moving moments, among others such as when he inhaled his father’s last breath, who was dying from cancer. Readers discover that the physician transformed himself as a driving force which reframed his mindset, to find the value behind his hurdles (for instance, at least four years went by before he was able to find work). This led him to discover a beneficial impact he never knew existed. Dr. Allen refused to allow his spirit to be crushed by negativity, in spite of the huge obstacles that he had to overcome after the injury. The author offers in his book precious lessons and provides a philosophical perspective of life’s purposes. He encourages the readers to find their inner gifts. Dr. Emile Allen gives a clear approach to combating the tiger in all of us and makes us see the importance of letting go our life wounds.

Overall, after the accident Dr. Allen was impacted on many levels: physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. In his book, we learn about the different phases he went through: denial, grief, and acceptance of the situation with his willingness to reposition himself. This powerful autobiography talks mainly about his losses and the means he undertook to recover. The book reminds us that we should not take our health for granted, and it represents a precious gift all humans share. The author provides his unique perspective as both a physician and a citizen.

Dr. Allen has almost recovered from his brain trauma, but he still struggles from a peripheral neuropathy and reflex sympathetic dystrophy, also called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). However, Dr. Allen has learned to live with it. He sees these challenges as gifts. He became active by working as a medical consultant. He also delivered live webinars which gave physicians the opportunity to participate in question-and-answer sessions. As a motivational speaker, the following are just some of the themes he covers: how to sharpen intuition to become a better leader, how to connect on a deeper level with employees to achieve higher productivity, how to create a map that guides you to success in one’s professional and personal aspects of life. Dr. Allen is a member of the National Speakers Association. Furthermore, he writes for a number of publications.

He traveled to Haiti in 1989 to provide care, and this was part of his medical training. A hospital was built there with his team. In his book, he shares the great values he learned from the Haitians: gratitude, conviviality and so on. Dr. Allen also visited the Fiji islands to provide care and, later, for a ten-day spiritual retreat. This trip became a catalyst to transform and rebuild his life.

This year, Dr. Allen visited the following cities for his book tour: Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, and New York, NY. He did radio and TV interviews, even abroad like in Trinidad and Tobago: http://www.cnc3.co.tt/news/cnc3-ems-2013-02-25-life-lessons. His compelling autobiography is part of our fall top 20 books: http://www.megadiversities.com/books/251.html and I had the honor to write a quote published in his memoir. The book, rich in content, should be translated in several languages. As a female, it was nice to see that the book was published on the International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2013. The author became this year a Silver Medal Winner in the Readers’ Favorite International Award contest and got a 5 Star Rating. Dr. Allen will receive the Award at the Miami Book Fair International on November 23rd , 2013 where illustrious authors attended in the past such as Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Edwidge Danticat, Walter Mosley, Al Gore, etc.

As mentioned, Dr. Allen wears many hats. As a Medical Director, he was involved in product definition, corporate strategy enhancement, as well as business and alliance development, which resulted in an accretion in corporate profits from $3.5 million to $5 million in less than one year. Dr. Allen is currently establishing business alliances with healthcare providers, in order to improve patient care by preventing or reversing chronic diseases through proper nutrition. Dr. Allen currently lives in Florida.

Dr. Allen has an incredible tale of tragedy, faith, hope and victory. We had the pleasure to talk with him. He spoke about his inspirational memoir and shared his advice for aspiring physicians among other themes. Dr. Allen was really generous with his time during our conversation. This is his first interview from Quebec.

Our visitors can watch the hot book trailer below before we begin the interview:



P.T. Why was it important for you to share your story in a book?

Dr. A. It was only fourteen years after my injury that I felt ready to write a book. As you know, many people go through struggles in life, and some have stresses that occur on a daily basis. This can create anxiety in some, while in others paralysis related to fears might always come up in their lives. These fears started long before we were adults. In fact, it often began during our childhood, even before we commenced to talk. It started frequently with stories narrated by our parents and related to lions, bears, tigers, Snow White with her mean step-mother, the Wizard of Oz with the witch, etc. It can stay with us and, as adults, we watch news which are often fear based. We see tragedies and so on. In some ways, since our childhood, we have been programmed to have dreads. Whatever hardships we have in our lives related to financial crises, health scare, divorce, job loss, fears kick in. I call that fear the tiger. I had to face my own tigers when I had my accident. I needed to deal with these tigers and learn how to get past this. I am sure that you heard this terminology before. FEAR is actually false evidence that appears real. Struggles are part of life and we have to go through them. We need to learn how to deal with it on a daily basis. It is also possible to see the positive sides of it. I mean, sometimes, hardships can be a blessing in disguise. In my case, my difficult experiences allowed me to reach to many more people than I could have done if I had remained solely a medical practitioner. So, some setbacks can be an opportunity to reframe our outlook on life. When we are at the core of the crisis, it is difficult to notice the positive side of it because we have blinders at that moment. However, once you step away and look at it with a different perspective, gifts might show up.

Progressively after my accident, I recovered and re-entered the workforce by doing consulting work. I started traveling and doing interesting things with my life. It was like a rebirth and I wanted to share my experience hoping that it could inspire other people who are struggling with their own difficulties. I realised with times that I utilized the same technics I used with my patients to counsel them and their families when they had serious diseases. I employed the same principles for myself. 

It was a journey. I went to spiritual retreats, I enrolled in self-help courses. I read self-help books. I combined all these things together. My insight increased after my accident. It helped me to go forward in life. I realised that it became important for me to write a book to share these insights if this can aid other people to deal with their own life crises.

P.T. Please, explain to us what lies behind the title of your book Eaten by the Tiger? In other words, talk to us about the metaphor in this title. You touched on this topic in your last answer, but you can elaborate.

Dr. A. Sure! The tiger is the metaphor for fear. Many years ago, I was on a spiritual retreat in the Fiji Islands. I had a spiritual guide called Dasaji who would take us to meditation sessions, and after, we’d have spiritual lessons. I explained to my Dasaji that I felt stuck in my life after my accident. I had difficulty at that point in knowing what my life’s purpose was after my injury. He told me that I needed to be eaten by the tiger. I didn’t understand. All the Dasajis came from India. I responded at the time that I wouldn’t drink this cool aid, and tigers are in India [laughs]. A few days later, I was in a deep meditation state. I was in a thorough level of spirituality, as I had never expected. Everything slowed down. I was appreciative for the things going on in my life and felt at peace. I later walked toward a beautiful garden of an ashram and I met Dasaji Rajesh, a spiritual guide. I shared with him the great meditation experience I just got with a smile on my face. He told me “you have finally been eaten by the tiger”. I said to him that I didn’t understand his point of view. He responded that the best way he could explain it was the fact that I had been running away from my fears for so many years. I fell down from a mountain and half the way of it, I grabbed on to a branch but I didn’t end up to the bottom. I had been holding on to that branch for the last few years of my life. I didn’t climb to the top of the mountain because of my fear of falling and I didn’t let go of the branch because if I fell, I would be scared that the tiger would be down there waiting for me. However, today, I finally let go of the branch and I allowed God to catch me. When he said it that way, it totally made sense to me because after my electrocution injury, I have gone from surgeon to patient for three years. Physicians, my family and friends were taking care of me to the point where they drove me around because I needed to go to the store for instance. I had been in the victim mode for so many years and it had become comfortable for me.

P.T. You were allowed to have difficulties in accepting your situation and even be angry.

Dr. A. Yes and I needed to grieve. It was important to do my best not to stay in the anger phase because I wouldn’t want this to hold me back. I also had a lot of fears about moving forward in my life and see how I could transfer my medical knowledge to another career. I was in some ways paralysed, and it held me back from living my full potential. Today, I realised that holding to my past identity as a surgeon kept me from moving forward. This is where the title “eaten by the tiger” comes from. It is about surrendering my past life. When you abandon your fears, your tiger or you learn to face them, this is how you become empowered. With time, you can even become cunning enough to confront your tigers faster. What is holding us back is our attachment to the past. It is important to let go of these restraints. So, I learned how to abandon my branches and to have faith that God would catch me.

P.T. You said these powerful words to the media: "My accident was actually the best thing that ever happened to me". "I believe my life was saved that day, so I could help the millions of people in the world who are struggling." Can you elaborate on that?

Dr. A. Yes! As a surgeon, I was only able to help two or three people at a time in my office or in the operating room. I may have a positive impact on some individuals but not on a community. After the recovery of my injury and after I went through the process of rebuilding my life, I realised that becoming an author and a speaker was a gift. I believe that God gave me these opportunities. Now, I have thousands of people who listen to me as a motivational speaker and who read my book. It seems that I am touching more lives now than I did as a surgeon. Besides, I am not leaving any scars on the patients’ bodies which will remind them of the procedure. I am leaving words of wisdom that they can use to apply in their lives in a way that will benefit them. My accident was like a curse which became a blessing because I found a way to rebuild my life. It gave me a second chance.

P.T. You are a very independent man and your identity changed suddenly after the accident. How did you cope with all this and how was it for you after the injuries to go back as an adult to your parents’ house, who were aging?

Dr. A. [Silence] That was the hardest part. I had been living with my parents for almost three years. I was incapable to perform the most basic of tasks. In addition, I was deeply affected by the fact that I could not maintain my medical practice. With the loss of my career, my identity shattered. Being an independent, highly functioning adult before, and all of the sudden, to be in a position where my parents had to care for me was very difficult. I went from being a specialized physician to become a patient. It was heartbreaking.

Again, because of my brain injury I could not do a simple activity such as reading a book or count change. In addition, people including my parents had to drive me around. It was very challenging and this ordeal had an impact on my self-esteem. The emotional trauma was far more difficult than the physical trauma. I was confident that I would heal from the physical trauma. I had no idea how long it would take me to heal from the psychological scars. This happens to many people. The emotional wounds can last for decades in some cases, and even a lifetime. That was one of the reasons why it was important for me to write the book. I thought it was crucial for people to be aware of these issues. I wanted to show that emotional trauma is not necessarily depression. I was grieving, which is a normal process because I had the loss of my identity. It is like the loss of a loved one. Usually, it takes a year to overcome this; after that period, it can become depression if the person is still mourning. For me, grieving was a continuous process, and what helped me was to find a new meaning in my life. 

P.T. I also guess that, during this process, you discovered and assessed who really cared about you, who your true friends were (being drawn to you just because you were a physician and who appreciated you as a human being), and so on.

Dr. A. Absolutely! When you reach the rock bottom, you really learn who your friends are. Some people among my old friends stayed in my life and I got new friends. I love them so much. I feel blessed to have them.  I had to reframe my fears, my tigers, into something constructive and positive. Without comparing my situation to that of others, we all have to deal with our hurdles and find ways to adapt. For my part, it was important to become hopeful by taking my blinders off and believe that opportunities can appear. It was helpful for me to remain grateful with what I had. It was cathartic for me to write on a daily basis all the things I should be grateful for in life. This process shifted the perspective and the views I had about my injury.

P.T. Did you also create a vision board? 

Dr. A. Definitely! Everything on my vision came true. I believe this method is extremely powerful and I highly suggest people to use it by picking inspiring colorful pictures where you see yourself at least a year from now. This represents a GPS of your life direction.

P.T. Do you mind sharing some of the things which were part of your vision board that came true?

Dr. A. Yes! I knew that I wanted to touch people’s lives and speak to thousands of them. That was on my board even if, at the time, I had no clue about how to achieve it.

However, I saw myself on the stage talking to an audience. This materialized. I eventually became a keynote speaker and an author. I never planned in a million years to write a book. These tools allow me to touch tens of thousands of people at a time. 

I also put the picture of a house near the water on my vision board, because I always envisioned that one day I would live there. I was fortunate that this became true years later.

Now, I live in Southern Florida by the ocean. If you had asked me ten or fifteen years ago, I would not have viewed my life that way, and certainly not in Florida. So, it is important to put ideas on the table about your goals.

The vision board allows to focus on what you want in life. In fact, sometimes it is already there. It is a matter of believing in it and taking actions to make sure that your thoughts come to fruition. The inner language is crucial, it cannot be negative if you want to go forward.

P.T. This is really interesting because I noticed, for instance, that retired people, when I hear them speak, it often happens that those who are negative didn’t succeed professionally and/or personally throughout their lives. I observed the opposite with those who have a positive mindset. I could also see that there are people who are disqualifying themselves even before they try to accomplish their dream.

Dr. A. I believe that. Now more than ever, especially with the Internet, we have access to an infinite amount of resources which allow us to achieve anything we want in life. It is our journey to find out how we can use the gift that the universe gives us.

P.T. I think that more than ever, the world will discover talented people in many realms.

Dr. A. This is an interesting point! The access to information democratised. People have access to libraries, university courses, even Ivy League ones. So, tools are available to shape the life you wish to have.

P.T. After your electrocution accident, as mentioned, there was a point in your life where you could not read a book among other tasks; now you are an author. What was your main driving force to overcome your obstacles?

Dr. A. I have always been an outgoing person who wanted to learn. Even during the years I was not able to read a book, I practiced. So, I guess that my determination definitely helped. I did this practically every day, even if I only looked at the pictures. My doctors recommended to take art classes to fortify the part of my brain related to art creativity.

P.T. Is it the right part of the brain?

Dr. A. Exactly! This concerns the right hemisphere. As a scientist, it was the left part of my brain (related to rationality, logicality, analytical thinking, etc.) which was more developed. The physicians wanted me to use the part of my brain which had not been injured. They thought it would help my neurons to reconnect. They were right. So, I took art courses where I did a lot of painting and drawing. I was not very good when I first started [laughs], but with time I became a decent artist. The driving force for me was making efforts to utilize my brains. Another impetus was to continue to learn and be exposed to different situations. I did my best not to be in a state of despair. Instead, I went out, I exercised, and I spent time with my friends. When I got better, as mentioned, I vacationed. I definitely didn’t want to stay all the time at home, moping while watching TV. Throughout my medical practice, I observed that some of my patients, after their diagnosis, gave up on themselves. Even if it is hard, it is important not to surrender.

P.T. What was the prognosis of your medical team? Did they give you hope and was it your driving force to get better?

Dr. A. They didn’t give me a prognosis. It wasn’t clear to them, at the time, if I had a brain injury. They suspected that I had a mild concussion. Nevertheless, a CAT scan and MRI of my brain did not reveal any obvious damage. Tests results indicated a mild injury to my heart. Since my left hand was weak and wouldn’t close, the specialists were more concerned about the neurological damage to my hand. My fine motor coordination was entirely disrupted, and I could not hold or pick up objects.

Back in the late 90s-early 2000s, brain injuries and traumas were not well diagnosed like now. In the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, many brain injuries occurred in soldiers who were bombarded. Thousands of soldiers came back with PTSDs, brain disorders, and so on. A lot of researches were done on these conditions, and the detection tests became more precise with time. So, in the late 90s I had to utilize my inner faith that things would be better eventually. I had to remain patient and keep working to ameliorate my health while trying as much as possible to maintain a positive attitude. I was confident that, in spite of my hurdles, I would eventually find the light at the end of the tunnel.

As mentioned, I was always an outgoing person who had a thirst for learning. In spite of my limits at the time, I still tried to read a book, looking at pictures, etc. As I said, my health professionals recommended me to take art classes to stimulate my neurons. I engaged in all these steps and, deep down, I remained faithful that things would get better.

P.T. In your book, you didn’t talk about your origins. Since our webmag covers the subject of diversity a lot, can you elaborate on your roots or your cultural heritage? In addition, tell us how it shaped you to become the man that you are today.

Dr. A. [Silence] I am originally from Southern California. I have multiple origins: African-American, Creole from New Orleans. More precisely, both of my parents had African-Americans roots. My father also had Cherokee ancestors and my mother had French with Spanish roots. My late father was a urologist and my defunct mother was a nurse from New Orleans. It was very beneficial, and my parents always pushed me with my siblings to better ourselves by constantly aiming for higher standards while being kind to other people. These values helped me a lot throughout my life and made me the person I am today. My parents led a strong foundation. I had amazing teachers, also in medical school and during my surgical training. It had an important impact on my life. I need to mention that I had also terrible teachers until college. It is very important to say this because it is crucial not to let anyone determine your value. If I had listened to these bad teachers, I would have never become a physician. I would have been stopped by their negative comments. Who knows where I would be now! Yet, deep down I was aware that I was worth much more than what they were saying.

P.T. Often, when people do this, it is because of the opposite. They see the value in the individual, they feel threatened by it and might view the person as a future competitor instead of a precious collaborator.

Dr. A. This is an interesting point!

P.T. Moreover, the fact that you had your father as a physician at home represented a concrete role model to you, so you knew it was possible to make it not only as a physician but also as a specialist.

Dr. A. Definitely! There are many people who don’t have role models at home. Some are orphans or have a single parent. However, even if it is not easy, these situations should not stop you to chase your dreams by looking for resources and so on.

P.T. Is there anything you would like to add regarding how your heritage shaped you to become the man that you are today?

Dr. A. [Silence] I think that the struggles I went through with my accident, even if it was tough, is a battle I was prepared my entire life. My parents went through struggles such as racism their whole existence. I went through the same, especially during my youth from grade school till residency. The naysayers made me stronger. I reframed the negative messages that I was receiving into something positive and constructive. When my accident happened and shattered my identity, as mentioned I was indirectly prepared for it when I had to go through the other hurdles that I have just described. Moreover, with my Native and African-American roots I have been familiar with struggles which are part of my ancestors’ history. My forefathers had to be resilient—in spite of the unbelievable ordeals that a human being can go through—and this strong trait is definitely part of my heritage, which was passed down from generation to generation. The empowering historical events of my roots really sustained me.

P.T. Eaten By The Tiger is chiefly about resilience. You wrote in your book this quote: « While we can’t avoid life’s problems, we can decide whether we will respond to them in a way that empowers us or react to them as a victim; it is our choice”. Can you elaborate on this?

Dr. A. I strongly believe in this powerful quote because it is not the event that will determine what you will become or the outcome you will get. As I mentioned, I learned how to constructively reframe my tragedy after the accident. Instead of being in the victim position for the rest of your life, it is possible to see what you can learn and how you may use what happened to you, while looking for resources to help yourself overcome your ordeals. I decided to assess how I could use my accident to empower myself and to aid other people.

Overall, I learned that even in difficult times you can choose whether to let problems overwhelm you or face them. This change of mindset didn’t happen overnight. It took years to see how I could reposition my life and take other directions.

P.T. Do you think your accident made you a better person with an improved and more empathic medical perspective?

Dr. A. Absolutely! Although, I don’t practice medicine anymore, I still speak to medical students, residents and the general population. I utilize my medical training (including surgical processes and procedures) to support other businesses and organisations.  Being affected by the electrocution injury and going through years of treatment has made me a better physician and person. I learned to listen better. My perspective is different since my injury, and I give advice that I would probably not even think about prior to my accident. I understand more the people who are afflicted. I also appreciate life much more. However, it is important to note that balance is required for health professionals. You can be empathic but not sympathetic, otherwise you won’t be objective and able to help patients with their families. 

P.T. In your book, you talked about basic health tools such as catheters, which some countries do not have. You said that, on a regular basis, these tools are being thrown away in the U.S. What should be done to help countries in need to have more access to these types of equipment?

Dr. A. [Silence] A lot of the instruments are being thrown away in my country to prevent infectious diseases. In “under-development” countries, because of difficult conditions and the scarcity of access to any tools, they have been utilized the equipment after sterilizing them again. I would not promote that to be a trend to follow for “Third World” countries.

However, I have to mention, for instance, that when a medication has an expiration date, it does not necessarily mean that the pill is bad. It might not be as effective as before, but in some emergency cases it can be useful. For example, when I was in Fiji, a typhoid outbreak occurred. Many children ended up in the hospital. Multiple kids could have been saved while these “expired” medications were being destroyed in my country. Any pills can create side effects whether they have expired or not. I think it would be worth studying the possibilities with pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies.

P.T. In Eaten By The Tiger, it is moving to see how you open your heart and share your feelings. Not many men do express themselves like that in writing, or even in life because they have been taught socially to repress their emotions. I would not be surprised if female readers were pleased at this. Am I right, and why was it important for you as a male to bring this aspect into your memoir?

Dr. A. [Silence] Honestly, it was a natural thing for me. I was not thinking as a male when I penned my book. My focus was to write my autobiography in a way that it could help people with their life struggles. Both genders enjoy my book. However, I noticed that women have a more emotional response to my memoir because they relate to it differently compared to men. There are women who told me that my story gave them goose bumps and they felt energised. They want to know more about the story behind my journey. Maybe men do not allow themselves to express more overtly how my memoir speaks to them and how the tigers may have an impact on their lives. When I was writing the book, a lot of tigers came into my life and I was afraid to put my story out to the world.

P.T. Writing an autobiography must be like being naked, in a figurative sense.

Dr. A. Exactly! When the book was ready to be published, all these tigers reappeared again [laughs]. I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to showcase my life out there. Although, the most important thing for me was to do it to inspire people, hoping that my journey could help them to find their own answers. 

It is nice to observe that, since the publication of my memoir, people wrote to me or called me to let me know that my story touched them and inspired them. There is a man who lost his son from suicide. He was devastated with this tragedy and he let me know that my book helped him to understand what were his tigers which prevented him to grieve. Now, he is able to see that it was a gift to have his son in his life. He is able to focus on the positive in spite of the tragic ending. I was very moved by his testimony. In keynote speeches, people also happen to tell me that my book helped them to identify their tigers. There is an 18 years old who really moved me. She said that growing up was difficult for her, but she felt that my speech helped her to identify her tigers, and this helped her to go through life. This touched my heart.

Overall, men tend to suppress their feelings solely to appear strong on the outside. When you share your story, it is great to receive feedback. I enjoy the process. I don’t believe that it is unmanly to share your feelings. Actually, being vulnerable can be powerful. You can be in control of your vulnerability instead of reacting to it. When you open up your inner soul and share with the world, people will come to you and open up too. There is an exchange and doing this may be liberating. Both sides we can learn from one another and grow. Being as authentic as possible was important in my writing process.

P.T. In your book, you shared with the readers these words that your father told you after your accident: “Emile, you get back to the hospital right now. The doctors should never have sent you home.” You argued with your father. My mother is a retired nurse like yours. She told me many times in my life that nurses can be the worst patients. Would you say the same about physicians?

Dr. A. Yes [laughs out loud]. We certainly can. Some of us have egos [chuckles] and this definitely needs to be out the door if we require care. We are not supposed to treat ourselves or family members because of the emotional connection and our judgement might be off while we are doing this. The day after the accident, I thought I was fine. I didn’t realise I had a brain injury, so I thought that my father was overreacting. A few days later, I fell asleep while I had a patient in my office. This is how it became obvious that something was wrong with me. The patient left the examining room to get a nurse for me. This is how I got admitted to the hospital. Physicians and nurses can be very difficult to deal with as patients [laughs] and some would be tempted to treat themselves.
I became one of those complaining patients [chuckles]. 

P.T. What is the main message you want the public to take in from your book?

Dr. A. I would say the main message is to identify the tigers and fears that may paralyse you and prevent you to move forward. Often, it is difficult to advance in life because we don’t want to let go of our past identity. In some cases, an emotional paralysis occurs. Our identities in life can constantly change. You might be one day an employee and, later, you become an entrepreneur. You can be on your road to retire, etc. So, nothing is permanent and adaptation is important. You’re never just Patricia [Turnier], you wear a number of hats that you have throughout your life. So, it is important not to be so hard on ourselves and find our tigers to see how we can overcome them while letting go of attachments that need to be left behind. You cannot do anything about the past; you need to deal in the present and determine the future.

P.T. You are highly intelligent. You could be the next Obama. Do you have any interests in active politics, and would you want to run for office in the future?

Dr. A. No [Laughs out loud]

P.T. [Laughs] Why? 

Dr. A. I have an outmost respect and admiration for our President, but when I look at the oppositions that he has to face, it is not for me. He is an inspiration, but I am not convinced to have the fortitude to deal with adversaries. In addition, to be a politician you need to be a great debater, to have a thick skin because you must take the heat. I don’t like conflicts [Laughs]. I could be the president of something else, but not in politics [chuckles]. I don’t like to be in the radar [Laughs]. 

P.T. In politics, I think you could be a great president, governor, ambassador, senator, or diplomat because you have a smart broad-minded view with a keen understanding of the world. In medicine, you could be the next surgeon general.

P.T. This article http://www.kulturekritic.com/2013/06/uncategorized/julianne-malveaux-says-that-inequality-must-be-confronted/, written by Dr. Malveaux Ph.D., former president of Bennett College, provided some disturbing information: not one African-American was admitted at Howard University medical school this year. Circa 3.8% of physicians are African-Americans. What can be done to increase the admission of Blacks in colleges including HBCUs and Ivy Leagues (less than 8% of Blacks are undergraduates from Ivy Leagues)?

Dr. A. The part of the article you are underlining was corrected. An error occurred. They rewrote it and circa 30% of African-Americans were admitted at Howard. What happened is there was a meeting at the Rodham Institute and a guest speaker said that no Blacks were admitted this year to Howard. Nobody said anything at the time but, afterward, someone researched this and discovered that out of 120 students, about 30% African-American males enrolled in the Howard’s School of Medicine for Fall 2013.

P.T. What about the women?

Dr. A. I don’t know. They didn’t say anything about them. In the article, they only mention men. Regarding the issue of increasing the number of African-Americans in medicine across the country, unfortunately it has been an ongoing problem. The number of Black doctors is not rising in cardiology (we only have 3%), and so on. This diversity deficit has an impact on the health of Black Americans. In this regard, we can observe health disparities among us. The gap is related to socio-economic issues and other complex factors are involved. The prevalence of obesity, diabetes, cardiac pathologies, hypertension, and cancer is higher. For instance, one in three Black Americans will die from cardiovascular pathology, including heart disease and stroke.

I believe the only way to have an increase of Black physicians in the profession is a significant mindset change of the medical communities, the health care society, and the general community as a whole. In addition, when a Black physician becomes a doctor, he won’t necessarily go back to the inner city (where he/she grew up) to open an office and earn basically peanuts. With a Medicaid rate, they will not be able to pay off their debts. After their studies, it is not uncommon that they will end up with a $300, 000 or even $400, 000 debt, especially for those who have a specialty. To be more specific, according to the washingtoninformer.com, one of the many obstacles preventing an increase in the number of Black physicians is the cost of going to medical school, which leaves 86 percent of young doctors with an average debt of $162,000. So, unfortunately, money is still a serious issue for Blacks to get in colleges despite the scholarships. This concerns those who want to enroll in medical schools and others.

To go back to Black physicians, they obtained their degrees with a lot of sacrifices. They will be more tempted to work in an area with high paying jobs where they will be able to make between $300, 000 and $400, 000 a year. This is a reality which needs to be addressed. The overall structure of repayment has to change in order to get graduates going back to inner cities. With a decent salary in these areas, more physicians would go there.

P.T. It is sad to hear this because it means that the quality provided healthcare depends on the economic state of neighborhoods. Some areas have fewer doctors and impoverished people do not have access to private care. It is a dual, unequal, and discrepant system that creates racial and socio-economical gaps with a different outcome in life-expectancy, etc.

Dr. A. I definitely advocate higher healthcare for all. More people like Dr. Ben Carson or me have to reach out to “minority” children who are in high school before they go to college. We could talk to them about the importance of getting a good education. I want to add that there are some associations, such as The AMA Foundation and the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC), which partnered to found a scholarship promoting diversity in medicine, favoring commitment to eradicate health care disparities, and supporting future cardiologists, while helping to assuage the debts of medical student. Other similar initiatives are needed across the country.

P.T. There is a great initiative that the Three Doctors did, and I strongly believe that it should be emulated in the Black community. The Three Doctors are three African-Americans who made a pact at an early age to become doctors. They grew up in the ghetto. They were sure they would be strong enough to face any obstacles together. Two among them became physicians and the third one is a dentist. They decided to support one another since high school. Their story is a testament of the power of positive peer pressure. In addition, they received great support from Carla Dickson, the student development specialist for the science program in Seton Hall University. The very first day that these men started the program, Ms. Dickson called them doctors because she believed in their abilities. This helped them to see themselves as doctors years before it actually happened. Every young person needs positive figures (one of the Three Doctors had his first interaction in his life with a physician when he was sick as a child. The physician took the time to explain the equipment he was using to examine him in the hospital and this experience inspired the kid to become a doctor. The first interaction for a child with a physician should not be when he/she’s a patient, to give him/her options of what he/she can become later in life). The Three Doctors created a foundation to help future generations.

Dr. A. This is a great story! I have to look deeper into this.

P.T. I also think that the dream of becoming a physician seems more attainable when you have people in your family who have achieved it. As mentioned, your late father was a urologist and your defunct mother a nurse. You learned a lot from them in the health field since your childhood. Your father took you to his workplace since your formative years, he taught you how to use a stethoscope when you were a child and so on.

Dr. A. This is true!

P.T. In addition, I believe that the ways we are portrayed in mass culture create a profound influence on how we view ourselves and each other, including the society as a whole. In fact, it has an impact on our interactions. I would like to add that affirmative-action programs are highly important in your country to increase the number of African-Americans in medical schools. Several of them who are highly qualified would not have made it without it.

P.T. Your book is informative and can be enlightening for those who want to embrace a medical career. What is the best piece of advice you can give them? In addition, only few physicians have two specialties. What message do you have for the young people who want to follow your path, and what can you tell them not to be discouraged by the number of years of studies it takes to get there?

Dr. A. First of all, you really have to follow your dreams. About the medical profession, you seriously need to be passionate and determined because it is not easy. It is true, the curriculum is long; it requires years of college. After, you have to do your internship and residency. When I was in medical school, I thought it was difficult but it became harder when I did my residency and so on. So, you really have to love it for yourself and for philanthropic reasons. You cannot enter the program solely for the financial rewards. 

Furthermore, I think that when future physicians are in college, it is important to learn about business skills and, if possible, even get a degree in this realm. For instance, it can be valuable to acquire knowledge on the business of running an effective medical practice. I also think that it is really crucial to better your writing abilities. It is judicious to always have something that you can fall back on. In my case, after my accident I became disabled. I was highly specialised and because of this, it limited me. It was not clear to me, at some point, how I could use my highly specialties in the general world. It took me years to find my niche. So, it can be very helpful to have general skills in communications (journalism, etc.), entrepreneurship, IT (that helps to navigate in our highly technical world and post-industrial era), etc. All this can be combined with medicine. We may do something for the rest of our lives or it might not happen because God has other goals for us that we don’t know about. “When it comes to making plans, you may have the pencil but God has the eraser”. In this regard, we cannot predict the future but we have the power to prepare ourselves. When you plan for the future, it never turns out exactly how you thought it would be. It is important to simply enjoy the journey. This is the beauty of going to college, to medical school, to residency and so on.

To become a doctor, you have to be very knowledgeable so, since your formative years if you want to be a physician, you need to read at least one informative book per week. In fact, you must get the kind of knowledge that will help you throughout your life. This is the secret to be successful in any realms. You have to be prepared and strong to face the rigors of academic work, etc. You also need to have a specific blueprint for your career path. Moreover, self-defeating thoughts and bad habits (such as not being organised, etc.) have to be out the door.

About the people who want multiple specialties, it all depends on the reason you are doing it. I saw several doctors who tried a specialty and did not really like it, so they decided to study another one. It has to be very clear why you want to achieve your objective. If you are in your thirties, for instance, and you are not happy with your specialty do not feel that you have to stay there for the rest of your life because you studied already for many years. Do not pigeonhole yourself.

Before you choose a specialty, it is important to have a concrete experience. During the medical curriculum, while you are taking rotations at multiple hospitals in pediatric, geriatric, surgery, obstetrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and other realms, assess your areas of interests and abilities as much as possible. This will help you determine in which field you can specialise. 

I also recommend getting skills in public speaking. Toastmasters.org is very interesting because they teach about this and it is suitable whatever your age; it helps to get over your fears. You need these skills whatever you will do in life. You can be asked anytime in a workplace to pitch something, so you have to be comfortable speaking before an audience.

My message for the parents who support their children heading to college and university is to take the time to find out about mentoring services and organizations that may aid your kids’ academic success while building their confidence and abilities. As it is often said, it takes a village to raise leaders and the next generation of alumni. It is also important for parents to buy learning toys to their children and instructive books. One of the greatest gifts a parent can give and transmit to his/her kids is the love for knowledge. Education starts at home. 

P.T. I noticed that several individuals who have been stimulated at a young age, thrived as adults. For instance, Oprah, Toni Morrison and Condoleezza Rice learned how to read when they were 3.

Dr. A. This is an interesting point! My final advice for the youths is to get rid of the limits that other people try to place on them and surround themselves as much as possible with positive people who uplift them. This represents my mantra.

P.T. Do you have a final message for our worldwide readers?

Dr. A. If people get my book, I am convinced that it will help them to have some reflections on their lives. They will find in it insightful thoughts and they will gain valuable information that they can apply in their particular situations. There are people who read my book two or three times, and every times they get various messages from it because it talks to them differently depending on where they are in their lives in that specific moment. I believe that my book provides a clear approach facing and combating the tiger in all of us. In addition, my autobiography can give hope. Alexander Graham Bell used to say: “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us”. This is the main message that I wanted to convey with my book.

P.T. I could relate to your story because I had a near-death experience at the age of 4.

Dr. A. Really?

P.T. I almost drowned in a pool (a child pushed me) and could not breathe for at least two minutes. I was saved by the father of the child who pushed me. He realized on time with my mother that I had disappeared. Fortunately, I had no aftereffects. This experience made me stronger because when you go through something like this, almost nothing scares you afterward. There are people who, without knowing this part of my life, find me courageous. I guess that my strength and my fearlessness come from this experience. In addition, it made me grow up fast.

Dr. A. So, you can understand what I am talking about.

P.T. Yes, definitely! Thanks for this great interview, it was an honor to speak with you. I am sure that your journey will inspire many of our readers.

Dr. Allen’s official websites: www.eatenbythetiger.com , www.emileallen.com  
His e-mail address:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Blog: http://www.emileallenmd.com/
You can also find information about him on GooglePlus, Pinterest and Linkedin.com

Dr. Allen M.D. in brief:


University of California

Track and Field Sprinter 1978-1981
BS, Zoology
1978 – 1982

Northwestern University - The Feinberg School of Medicine

Doctor of Medicine (MD)
1982 – 1986
Chief Medical Officer

University of Iowa

M.D. Urology
1986 – 1991

Chief Resident 1990-1991, specialized in Urologic Oncology
Chief of Urology and Vice-Chairman of Surgery

Scrips Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Ca.
1993 – 1997 (4 years) La Jolla, Ca.

Dr. Allen was responsible for the management of the surgeons at Scripps Memorial Hospital and assuring optimum quality of patient care.

Other previous positions:

• Chief Medical Officer for DeliverLean.com
• Clinical Director for Immuno Laboratories
• Founder & CEO for EmileAllenMD.com

Current positions:

June 2012 – Present Boca Raton, FL.
Strategic Health Care Consulting, including B2B alliances with DeliverLean and Hospitals/Physician practices

• June 2010 – Present: 
Responsible for business development and providing clinical relevance to clinicians regarding Immunology testing to identify inflammatory food intolerances.


• Empowerment
• Image/Self-Esteem
• Inspirational
• Vision/Purpose
• Bereavement
• Adversity

Other professional activities: Dr. Allen writes weekly Health Care Articles on blogs 
for nutritional presentations and consultations to corporate and client staff.

Competencies and expertise of Emile Allen, M.D.:

Motivational Public Speaking


Coaching on strategic planning, team building, leadership development, etc.

Healthcare (including providing information on nutrition, wellness, etc.)

Strategic Planning including marketing and new business development


• Chief of Urology and Vice Chairman, Dept. of Surgery (Scripps Memorial Hospital)
• Vice-Chairman of the Physician Executive Section (National Medical Association)
• Executive Director (Fiji Medical Mission)
• Clinical Director: Immuno Laboratories
• Medical Director: Breathe Easy Pulmonary Services
• Adult & Pediatric Urologist: Private Practices (La Jolla, CA & Honesdale, PA)


• American Urological Association, American Medical Association, National Medical Association, California Medical Association, Pennsylvania Medical Association


Dr. Sherry Skidmore, Ph.D., Professor of Forensic Psychology: “The stories are magnetic, gripping. They pulled me through the book every step of the way.”

Donna Kennedy, English Professor and Professional Editor: “Wow! I’m an editor and read books every day for a living. I couldn’t put [this book] down. The stories are evocative and made me feel like I was right there talking to Dr. Allen. He is a writer and it’s obvious he found his true passion.”

Harry Wilkins, III, M.D, Attending Trauma / Surgical Critical Care Attending, Quincy Medical Group: “After reading this book, everyone is going to use the phrase Eaten by the Tiger. Emile you nailed it. This book is a grand slam!”

Sid Vaidya, Former VP of IBM, Founder/Chairman, The Diamonds of Diversity: “In clear and simple language, [book] describes the process of letting go of the emotional and physical baggage in your life… poignant stories illustrate how to transform yourself into a better you. This is one of the most meaningful books I have ever read, and I highly recommend it as a must have book for your library.”

Jeanette Grace: “As a professional writer for over 20 years, I found [this] to be captivating and evocative. Vivid descriptions pulled me into…each story and elicited a visceral and emotional response that not many writers can accomplish…found myself laughing, crying and being shocked by your real life stories…not only engaged my imagination but also demonstrated how to live an empowered life. Thank you, Dr. Allen, for sharing your life with us. Your courage is an inspiration to all of us.”

Pompey Stafford, Investment Advisor: “Since I have recently lost my son, I resonated deeply with Dr. Emile’s life stories and insights. My son’s passing has left a chasm in my heart and soul so wide and deep, that words can’t describe…[book] enhanced my faith and will to move forward but not forget the love and joy my son gave…captivating read with extraordinary stories from his life.”













An excerpt of the book:

“I have come to realize that people fear making mistakes, being embarrassed, or looking stupid. They fear losing their material attachments such as money, homes, cars, and boats. Losing emotional attachments to children, parents, partners, and status at work or in the community also paralyze people. Even though it may not be in our best interests, one reason why we don’t let go of the past is that we identify and feel comfortable with it.

Changing and moving into the unknown can be incredibly scary. We are afraid to step out and do something different or new from an empowered perspective. We believe the emotional pain of the change might be worse than the circumstances with which we’ve learned to live. The state of being frozen is a defense mechanism against moving forward and facing the fear change may bring.

If we are stuck and can’t seem to get that dark cloud from over our head, it means we haven’t let go of an attachment. The longer we hold onto something that doesn’t serve us, the longer we and those around us will continue to suffer. People fear being judged by others as a failure or, worse yet, seeing themselves as failures. We hold onto emotional baggage because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. However, letting go allows us to have more clarity to face the inevitable and overcome our fears.

As a physician, literally have seen people work and worry themselves to death in order to hold onto material objects that were definitely not as valuable as their own lives. Even physicians are not exempt. In fact, many physicians I know have worse health and more stressful lives than the patients they treat. They may even be in denial about their chronic illnesses.”