A Conversation with Ryan Greysen | See previous interviews

Ryan Greysen
Assistant Clinical Professor

Ryan Greysen

You are new to the division, a recent transplant from the East Coast. Can you share an anecdote about traveling cross-country?

We were traveling through Arizona—no towns for miles around (think No Country for Old Men)—with our windows down, singing to the Steve Miller Band’s greatest hits and suddenly the radiator blew and there we were, sitting on the side of the road with thunder clouds gathering. We got sunburned while sitting on a rock in the hour and a half that it took for help to arrive and tow us to Kingman, where nothing was open and no one had parts for our old BMW. In the two days it took for the car to be repaired, we went to Zion National Park and hiked.

Broken Car

Your new office has color, warmth, and a homey feeling. Are you a closet interior designer? How important are aesthetics?

When I studied at the Rhode Island School of Interior Design … no, seriously, I like organization more than aesthetics. Some of the framed items, like my medical degree, had never been hung before. The bookcase was rescued from the curb and I recovered my favorite lamp from that same curb where my wife had put it. The world map that covers the entire wall I purchased from National Geographic. When things are organized, that helps me organize my mind. And honestly, when I first arrived, the office was kind of ugly and depressing.

You have written a number of articles on the ethics of online communication and professionalism. What sparked this interest?

When I was at George Washington, Kathy Chretien, who is now a national expert on this topic, suggested that we survey medical school deans about social media issues with medical students. This was my introduction to the topic that was ultimately published and prompted me to research further. Social media is a mirror that reflects our values as people and as physicians. I don’t use the technology and don’t have a Facebook account but my idea is that someday we could do something with social media that is patient-centered and could be used to help them positively.

What daddy things are you really good at or really bad at?

I love changing poopy diapers, can never get enough of that, and we argue over diaper duty. Early on, I tuned in to the fact that my daughter liked to sleep in her car seat, and eventually she slept almost exclusively in the car seat, so wherever we went, her bed went with her. My wife says that I’m pretty intuitive about what she wants, and that’s rewarding.

Tell me about your parentswhat are they like?

My mother is an amazing woman. She comes from a long line of musicians, was trained as a classical pianist, and had her own music school so I grew up with all kinds of music in the house. When I was in med school, she embarked upon a second career in alternative medicine and went to acupuncture school; for eight years now, she’s practiced out of her own clinic. As a result of having a musical parent, I’ve played many musical instruments, none of them very well, including piano, violin, sax, and guitar. I’ve no real musical talent, and I can’t sing, but my good ear for pitch and tone translated into ability with languages. My dad is an airline captain and my fond childhood memories include flying a small plane with him sitting atop telephone books as a 5-year-old co-pilot.

Who was an inspirational mentor who inspired you? What traits characterized that person?

I’ve had so many great mentors that I’d hate to leave anyone out. The best had concern for me as a person and my professional development as a clinician and researcher. They always pushed me to be more independent, sometimes more than I was comfortable being. They understood the balancing act between encouraging your passion within the bounds of reason and needs of research.

Please tell me about the photo of a bicycle in your office. Other than commuting, might there be any cycling in your foreseeable future?

It’s a favorite image that I took in Italy. Bikes, especially really old Italian bikes, fascinate me. My big dream is to win a national championship someday. I need to connect with Bay Area cycling once I’m more established here but now I don’t anticipate doing a lot of racing this spring because—newsflash!—we are expecting a baby boy in April.

I believe that you are of Italian descent and speak the language fluently. Of all things Italian, what is the best?

I have family in Northern Italy, in Reggio Emilia, one of the areas in which Parmigiano-Reggiano is produced. I taught Italian for a few years and love so many things from Italy, but it’s the simple pleasures that I love the most, la dolce vita. My Nona makes lasagna that is, hands down, the most amazing thing that I have ever eaten or ever will; she makes the noodles by hand. That attention to detail is just not known here.

What is a linocut print? Can you share how you came to be interested in it? Are the framed prints in your office examples of your work?

I was inspired by some of Picasso’s linocuts. A brief explanation of the technique is this: You take a linoleum block, which has a substance that you can peel away easily. You trace an image or carve an image directly, then ink it and transfer the image. The one in my office is of the building where our anatomy and medical humanities classes were; it is a simple example but I handmade the paper as well. I made our wedding announcements using the same technique.

Wedding Invitation  Picasso Linocut  Armstrong Linocut

If you could have witnessed any historical event, which would it be? And why?

I studied history in grad school but am not a history buff; I don’t even watch the History Channel! I would probably have wanted to meet Richard Clarke Cabot, someone who started looking at systems-based problems, over a hundred years before Bob, but he was not a hospitalist. He was an internist and advocate for hospitals as a place to provide high-quality care instead of just as a place for poor, sick people. With the onset of technology, he was a fan of standardization and creating structure in institutions so that high quality care was available to more people.

What will be the highlight of the Greysen Thanksgiving celebration? Who does the cooking?

My wife is an amazing chef and she does a Coq au Vin and a cassoulet that is straight from Paris! My favorite is her stuffing that has sausage and breading and magic—I could eat it all day long.

Are you a movie buff and what’s a film you’ve seen so often that you know the dialogue by heart?

I can quote every word of The Blues Brothers, my favorite movie. For the most part, I love comedies and the action blockbusters on the big screen. I hate musicals.

Thank you, Ryan.

- by Oralia Schatzman

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