doc martens oxfords Art Hister brings his humourous healthy message to the Lake
Dr. Art Hister is appearing in Christina Lake on Sept. 3; Photo, submitted
All of us have sat through a lecture on health: eat better, take your vitamins, and exercise. Now if you think that’s what you’re going to hear when you attend Dr. Art Hister’s presentation in Christina Lake, well, you’re right. But the adventure in seeing Hister deliver his humourous message with interesting tidbits you may not know will be worth it.
After 20 years of work as a family physician, Hister became a full time media doctor in 1991. You many have heard him on CKNW, Global TV or read one of his books. Hister’s message: to help people live healthier lifestyles in the changing demands of the world, and to make sense of the volumes of health information being thrown at them everyday.
“I don’t talk about anything that is rocket science. I talk about healthy living, healthy lifestyles. I tell a lot of jokes which seem to work. I try to convince them why they should be living a healthy lifestyle,
what I think they should be doing, which elements are the most important. But then we have a terrific amount of fun in the question period. They can pepper me with anything they want to ask me,” says Hister.
In his shows, and when he does community presentations, Hister focuses on topics that he feels are going to interest a lot of people. “I always like to find something that will interest the great mass of people, and something that you can do something about. I invariably leave people with hope and I try to inject some humour. This is scary stuff, some of it, and I don’t ever want people to get more frightened by something I tell them,” says Hister.
“What I want them to do is understand, hey, you’ve got to deal with it,
it’s accessible, and you can laugh at it. This is a funny condition being alive so if you can laugh at it and have some fun we don’t have enough time on this planet, we should enjoy it while we’re here.”
After graduating from McGill University in Montreal, Hister moved to Vancouver in 1971 to become the first full time doctor at the Pine Free Clinic working with transient youth the first clinic of its kind in Canada. “It was transient and alienated youth that was the cover for the grant that we got. I don’t know if there is any youth that aren’t alienated so I guess we had a pretty wide umbrella. It became a legend in the Lower Mainland. It’s still going. We were basically taking care of the kids that nobody else wanted to take care of.”
Many of the youth he met didn’t have valid health care coverage, and it often was not easy to get in to see a doctor. “It was one of the best ways of learning about the variations in humanity that you’d ever want to experience. It was a terrific forming ground for me.”
Dr. Hister left the Pine Free Clinic in 1977 to enter private practice as a family physician and in 1991, became a full time media doctor. Comparing his one on one practice with his new field of media doctor, Hister said it is definitely less stressful than clinical work.
“People think it’s stressful to be on television, but once you get over the fear of being wrong and making mistakes and I am wrong and I make mistakes nobody shoots me for it. That’s everybody’s biggest fear I think when they pass themselves off as an expert in the media. I got over that long ago.”
Although Hister initially worried about the reaction from other doctor’s from his advice to people through the media, he has had little backlash from his work. The real benefit, he says, is that he can reach many more people than he ever could in private practice.
“I can’t believe how many letters and emails I get from viewers and listeners who thank me for something I told them,
who take something that I told them into a doctor’s office.”
Hister says it has been a real learning curve from the first days of his work in the media. “The second time I had my own show, I made a slip on something that was completely irrelevant to the large audience. Because we’re trained as doctors and physicians to come up with every exception and every rule when you’re talking to a patient, you want to give them the full story; you don’t want to leave anything out.
“I left out one word on something I was saying on the air and I came home absolutely terrified that they would take my licence away, that we’d have to leave the country, that Phyllis (his wife) and I would have to go live in Europe under assumed names!” After Phyllis calmed him down, he finally realized after a few days that everything doesn’t have to be perfect.
Dr. Art Hister’s Guide to a Longer and Healthier Life, as well as numerous articles for publications such asReader’s Digest,The Globe and Mail, andThe Medical Post.