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  • Writer's pictureDr. Neal Nybo

A snowstorm turns medical residents into kindness heroes

We picture medical residents as highly trained, overworked, exhausted people. They say that is an accurate image. In addition to all that, we can now add snow removal and driveway clearing, at least in this case.

First, who is this medical resident?

Dan Tran is a resident at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dan was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 30 during his second year of medical residency as an oral surgeon. It started out with back pain and numbness in his legs. When an MRI showed a tumor on his spine, Dan knew it was serious, but nothing prepared him for the unexpected diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. Dan was a health-conscious, non-smoker, just embarking on a hard-earned career. Following surgery to remove his tumor, Dan received treatment that targeted a specific mutation that was driving his cancer growth.

Second, where does the snow come in?

After Dan had surgery, a snow storm came through his Virginia community laying down two to three feet of snow and covering his driveway. He planned to go back to work but there was no way he was going to be able to shovel his drive. He called the office to say he wasn’t going to be able to make it. In less than an hour, doctors, nurses, and other staff were at his home, shoveling his drive.

We might be tempted to think they just really needed Dan to take his shift! But, their kindness didn’t end there. They began bringing meals, checking on him daily, and came over for holidays.

The kindness of that busy staff raised the positivity of the entire residency program.

Third, what happened to Dan?

Dan is now back to work and is bringing kindness to the doctor’s office and other cancer survivors. He has a whole new perspective on what it’s like to be on the other side of the stethoscope. The experience taught the young father that life isn’t guaranteed, and we could all benefit from a dose of kindness. He’s also advocating for other patients like him so they know they aren’t alone. You can follow Dan’s journey at

Fourth, hear Dan tell his own story on the NPR Kindness Podcast.

NPR affiliate, WOUB, hosts the NPR Kindness Podcast. You can hear Dan’s story here.

Kindness has the power to transform a mundane, passionless life, but it also has the ability to re-route a single bad day. The Host of the Kindness Podcast, Nicole Phillips, talks with people who share their uplifting stories.

Workplace Positivity

Nicole and I devote much of our time to training management teams and leaders to eliminate negativity by personally practicing some of these micro-actions of kindness. These aren’t sleepy mandatory sessions. We bring the vibrant joy that comes with sharing kindness. We have more stories, more insights, and more micro-actions than any company, organization, or team can possibly use.

Every story, insight and action we share with your team will multiply until you are sharing and overflowing with your own.

Either of us, or both of us, will be happy to work with you to create a customized training and presentation for you weekly staff meeting, quarterly training event, or annual conference. We have presentations from an hour to multiple days.

Now it’s your turn.

In the comments, tell me your #1 takeaway from this post and how you plan to use it in your workplace?

Want more? Click here for a free excerpt from Workplace Positivity with three micro-actions.

Workplace Positivity is available on Amazon.

For a free excerpt or to learn more about the work I am doing, go to

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