'Bachelor' doc enjoys teaching about medicine
Dr. Travis Stork received validation that he is achieving his goals for the syndicated television show The Doctors during a visit to his former work home, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Travis, an emergency room physician, quickly gained national prominence as the object of affection on the ABC reality dating show The Bachelor: Paris in 2006. Afterward, he took another job, in Breckenridge, Colo., and wrote the book, Don't Be That Girl: A Guide to Finding the Confident, Rational Girl Within.
Travis recently found an apartment in Los Angeles and began the Dr. Phil-spinoff show The Doctors. He is one of four doctor hosts who discuss medical and health issues and explain procedures that viewers witness.
"As a doctor, we go into this because we obviously want to save lives, but we also want to teach," he says. "This is the first time that any physician has had a platform where we can each and every day teach. I know that all four of us are just so proud of the opportunity to do this."
That's why Travis was so touched last week when he walked by a Vanderbilt patient's room and was summoned by a male patient and his wife. "They said, 'We watch The Doctors every single day and we have learned so much,' " he says.
Travis also recently met an airline worker who had watched an episode on diabetes. "She said, 'I just got diagnosed with it, and I really feel like I understand it now.'
"I think that I even underestimated the thirst that people have for practical everyday health information and how much people don't feel empowered when it comes to their own health.
"If you are watching Grey's Anatomy or House, and you think you are getting the medical information you should use in your own life, it's a bad thing. Eighty percent of people will use things they hear on TV and think of it as accurate medical information, even if it's just a nighttime drama."
Because The Doctors was put together by a combination of doctors who didn't know the television industry and TV producers who didn't know medicine, it took a few weeks to determine how to best combine the two worlds.
"One of the things we've found is that if I'm sitting on a couch each and every day, trying to be Dr. Philor Oprahor Ellen (DeGeneres), that isn't me being me," he says. "I'm a physician, so when you watch our show now, you are much more likely to see me standing, which is what I do. In the ER, I am always on my feet. I might be standing next to a guest who is in our exam room, and we are looking at X-ray images or CT scans, and I'm walking people through animation to describe what's going on."
He says being an emergency room doctor prepared him for his new gig.
"As an ER doc, you walk into every single day or night not knowing what is going to happen," he says. "You meet people from all different types of backgrounds, different personalities, different likes and dislikes. So, to host this show, the only thing that I said to myself was, 'Stay true to yourself. Be Travis, not only the person, but the doctor I'm comfortable being. Don't try to be someone I'm not.' "
Learning to read a teleprompter was easy, he says, because his English teacher mother made him read constantly while he was growing up. "I'm always reminding myself that there are millions of people at home watching, but what I learned very early in this process was to really picture myself talking to one person at home. I'm just trying to connect with whoever has on the television in Nashville, or wherever it may be. By doing that, it takes away a little of the obscure nature of just looking into a camera and talking into space."
Living in Los Angeles for his job has been an adjustment for Travis, who maintains his Colorado home.
"L.A. will never feel like home to me," he says. "I never saw myself being in L.A., so that's one aspect of the show that has been the greatest culture shock.
"I step off a plane in Nashville and I'm like, 'Ahh,' and take a deep breath. I would give anything to be able to have our show in a place like Nashville, where for me, it's a much more comfortable place to be. But I'm trying to make the transition."
While he put his love life on display during The Bachelor, he has learned that it's best not to comment publicly on his love life. So he has no comment on the media reports that he's dating Carrie Underwood.
"I don't pay any attention to things that people are saying on the Internet or stories that people are doing," he says. "I always say, 'My private life is private.' "
The Doctors airs weekdays on ABC affiliate WKRN-Channel 2 at 3 p.m.