Alumni Q and A with Lalit Chawla: Illusionist, Physician, International Speaker, Podcaster

Former stage illusionist-turned-physician harnesses the magic of the spoken word to enlighten listeners in new podcast.

Sydney Tancowny - 21 August 2019


U of A alumnus Lalit Chawla has had a diverse career as a stage illusionist, physician and international speaker. He's now branching out into podcasting with a weekly series called The Introverted Doctor.

Lalit Chawla attended Camrose Lutheran University College (now Augustana Campus, University of Alberta) and graduated in 1991. During his time on campus, Lalit participated in the Augustana Students' Association and was an active member on campus. Even now, Lalit continues his involvement with campus by supporting a bursary through the Community Awards Program.

"Augustana was very formative years for me. It was great development in such a positive environment. The professors were wonderful and you know, that's actually where my first big show was held-on campus at Augustana. And there was a lot of support with that," said Chawla. "I give a bursary. My brother gives a scholarship. So we have two different ways we contribute back. Augustana was really one of the best times of my life."

Lalit Chawla is a professional illusionist, international speaker and practicing family physician. He is also a U of A alumnus '91 BSc (Gen), '01 MD, and was awarded the 2014 University of Alberta: Augustana Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions in the field of medicine.

Recently, Chawla added a new chapter to his multifaceted career-that of a podcast host. In his weekly podcast The Introverted Doctor (also available to view on his YouTube channel), Chawla discusses ways that health-care professionals and others can live their best life and communicate more effectively with the people around them.

Learn more about Chawla and his foray into the world of podcasting in the following Q & A.

Why did you choose to begin a podcast?

I've spoken at several conferences over the years about strategies and tools to live your best life as a health-care professional and how to communicate better with patients and colleagues. Over the years people have asked me, "Do you have it in writing? Or could you write a book?" I did start writing one but then it was suggested to me that YouTube videos or a podcast would be a better way for people to get access to this information.

I began thinking about it more and as it turned out, there was a young man in the town where I live that was actually a podcast producer who could help. So I thought maybe this was a sign that I should do it. I just have a real belief that we all can contribute in our own way and teaching is something that I like to do.

Has the podcast lived up to your expectations going into the project?

I'm definitely enjoying it but it's a big learning curve. I'm learning a lot of things about creating and maintaining a website and presenting on camera-because that's a lot different than presenting or performing on stage. So it's been a good learning experience. It's been fun and the response I've been getting has been very positive. One of the really enjoyable things for me is interviewing other people that have knowledge and value that they can share. I've been surprised though at the number of people who are not in medicine who are actually listening and watching the videos. I keep getting emails and calls as to how certain ideas and episodes have helped people so it's rewarding to know it's having a positive impact. I'll keep getting better with practice.

What should listeners expect when they listen to The Introverted Doctor?

The whole purpose of the podcast is to uncover myths, mistakes and misconceptions that really hold health-care professionals back from living their best life in terms of their work relationships, their home relationships and how they play.

So it's about learning skills, tools and strategies to do that because we don't always get that from our schooling. We may know all the clinical information, but if you don't know how to talk to the patient, ask the right questions, break the ice and connect with them to build a level of trust, you can't formulate a shared treatment plan that is really effective. The whole communication aspect is really important.

Then there's also how we manage ourselves. So how do we manage our stress? How do we manage our time? What type of self-care do we have? We need to take care of ourselves because if we're, as clinicians, not taking care of ourselves better, we can't take care of our patients better.

Is the podcast only for health-care professionals?

Many of the things that I talk about apply to any individual. You don't necessarily have to be in health care to know how to have greater energy, how to be more present with people and how to be your best when you show up at work. They're transferable skills. It doesn't matter whether you're a doctor or whether you're working as a lawyer or secretary or nurse. Those things apply to a lot of people.

You were an illusionist before you became a doctor. How did you end up entering the world of medicine?

Well, I was in my undergraduate years in Augustana when I started doing magic and it kind of took off. I graduated from Augustana and started doing some shows and I really liked it. Originally I had planned to go into medicine, but I was 21 and I was doing really well with the magic. It was fun, exciting, different. I wasn't sitting at a desk all the time studying. So I decided to do that. But then my mom had health issues and developed breast cancer. That kind of changed my focus on what was important to me and what I should do career-wise.

What else would you like people to know about your work on The Introverted Doctor?

I just hope this podcast adds value to people from the lessons I've learned over the years and the things I continue to learn. It's always fun to learn and grow and to do something in a different manner. So just like with the magic and the illusions, this is another way of being creative.

Learn more about Lalit Chawla through his websites and