Jonathan Kung

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Kung, MD, a Gastroenterologist with dreams within and beyond medicine. Some of you may know him on Instagram as the fashionable physician @Jonny_Kay. He is a growing motivational speaker promoting health and wellness through the pursuit of one’s passions and dreams.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I joined a medical mission to Guatemala in the Summer of 2007 as a pre-med student. I met so many wonderful people in need of quality healthcare. I remember helping the physicians and nurses with very basic tasks, however seeing the amount of care our team could deliver to so many people in need in such a short amount of time, lit a fire within me to pursue a career as a physician so I too could return someday with the skills and knowledge to deliver the same level of healthcare. 11 years later I became a physician, board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology with an extra year of specialized training in the liver and pancreas. Through my 11 years of medical training and now as a practicing Gastroenterologist, I have found so much value not only in medicine itself but also in encouraging my patients to just enjoy life in whatever way that excites them outside the walls of a hospital. I have found that the cornerstone of treatment for many patients includes a healthy, active lifestyle blending a mix of all their passions ranging from sports and traveling to reading or laser tag. By pursuing my passions as a physician within and beyond medicine including fitness, fashion, travel, and public speaking, by sharing my story through my Instagram, I hope to lead by example and show that you can take your wellness into your own hands by living life to the fullest. 

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?

One of the most wonderful things which has happened to me since I began as Jonny_Kay has been the countless kind responses from so many aspiring students, residents, other healthcare professionals, and even more people outside of medicine sharing their stories with me and how my story has inspired them to pursue all their passions, while not limiting themselves to what is the norm, and not letting their careers define them.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started my Instagram, I thought everything would just come to me. I found quickly that if you’re interested in something or want to be involved, you have to not be afraid to take chances, ask questions, approach the unapproachable, and put yourself out there. One of his best pieces of advice – “You can’t always expect people to come up to you. If you sit back and wait, nothing is going to happen. You have to put yourself out there, ask, and express interest. For example, during New York Fashion Week, a lot of people think all these people are invited from scratch by the companies or their PR teams, when in fact, many of the attendees at these shows have spent months preparing for and emailing the shows’ PR teams or representatives to express interest and request an opportunity to attend. It never hurts to ask. What’s the worst that can happen – someone either doesn’t respond or they say no. But for every 100 no’s all you need is one yes to take the next step forward.”

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Work-life balance is extraordinarily important. So many times I hear my fellow physicians speak of it, but are they balancing. The value of taking time for yourself to pursue your interests outside the hospital is reenergizing and I feel doing so allows me to deliver better healthcare to my patients. The same way I encourage my patients and the public to stay active in whatever way they can, the same can be said for my colleagues. Don’t allow your career or symptoms to define you. Take control. There’s always time if you make time to pursue any activity or interest.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

“My parents. They are self-made. They were poor when first coming to Brooklyn from Taiwan. My dad worked as a doorman and my mom played piano for a ballet for many years before my dad was accepted to medical school and my mom worked her way up in the finance world. She supported my dad through school, and to this day is still the glue to our family.” I look at everything my parents accomplished and how far they’ve come. It makes me want to work harder. Staying actively involved in so many different things, you sometimes feel tired, however, I then remember how hard my parents work even to this day, and it pushes me to deliver even better healthcare to my patients, while also keeping that same fire in all my other interests. My parents have supported me through all the ups and downs, frustrations, and achievements. I owe everything to them.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Betterment is perpetual labor. The world is chaotic, disorganized, and vexing, and medicine is nowhere spared that reality. To complicate matters, we in medicine are also only humans ourselves. We are distractible, weak, and given to our concerns. Yet still, to live as a doctor is to live so that one’s life is bound up in others’ and science and the messy, complicated connection between the two. It is to live a life of responsibility. The question then is not whether one accepts the responsibility. Just by doing this work, one has. The question is, having accepted the responsibility, how does such work well.” – Well known Physician & Author Atul Gawande

I love this quote because I feel it describes the imperfection of being a physician where we are a human being and are not perfect, however by recognizing the responsibility and duty we have to our patients, treating them in that vein in itself is perfect.

“Better is possible. It does not take a genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.” – – Well known Physician & Author Atul Gawande

Another Dr. Gawande quote. He tells us to be true to ourselves and not be limited by anything. Focusing on becoming a better person everyday and diligently pursuing your interested is so important.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? 

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a big supporter of medical missions and would love to organize more opportunities Internationally for healthcare providers to participate. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many healthcare professionals through social media and meet people who I otherwise would never have had the privilege of meeting in my life. I’m hoping to bring these incredible people together for medical missions throughout the world.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can find me on Instagram @jonny_kay and twitter @jonnykay_

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!