Sanjay Gupta sees himself as a doctor first, but he is best known as CNN's chief medical correspondent, reporting on breaking medical and health news, and translating technical medical jargon into information viewers can use to live longer, healthier lives.
"People look at my two careers as disparate, but I see them along the same continuum," Gupta says. "As a doctor, I take care of patients one at a time, and as a communicator, you do it for lots of people at the same time. I think part of my job is to provide knowledge for people that is actionable."
A practicing neurosurgeon, Gupta, 40, is also an Emmy award-winning reporter. He reported on the war in Iraq as an embedded correspondent with the U.S. Navy's medical unit and from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
He's the associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.
As a medical correspondent, he travels the world, gathering research and information to help people live longer and healthier. It has become his ikigai, an Okinawan term for sense of purpose, he says. Gupta believes a sense of purpose should be rooted in the daily question, What can I do today to make the world a better place? "As a healthcare provider, I want to help people become more knowledgeable or directly impact their health as a neurosurgeon."
But he didn't always know what he was meant to do. "I was a writer for a long time on health care and healthcare policy, and then I worked in the White House, primarily as a White House Fellow writing speeches for then first lady Hillary Clinton. And it got me interested in the different ways to get messages out there. It gave me the bug a little bit."
The next part was a bit serendipitous, he says. "I was recruited by the guy who was the CEO of CNN at the time. I wasn't at all sure what I was getting myself into when I first started. But it's seven or eight, years later now, so it has been very interesting to me."
Gupta also co-hosts Accent Health for Turner Private Networks, providing medical segments for the syndicated version of ER on TNT and has launched a weekly podcast on iTunes called Paging Dr. Gupta. He began tweetering in May, and in two months' time, has a half-million followers.
"I have a lot of people come up to me who say, I am here today because of what you said.' That is very gratifying to me."
He shares his message on how to live a...