Dr. Allan Hamilton Profile

Dr. Allan J. Hamilton is a highly sought after speaker in the field of health, spirituality and wellness. A Harvard trained brain surgeon and author, he shares inspirational stories and advice that empower well being and spiritual growth.

A professor of Neurosurgery at University of Arizona, Dr. Hamilton was promoted to Chief of Neurosurgery and became the Chairman of the entire Department of Surgery in 1998. He currently holds a tenured professorship in Neurosurgery, as well as additional professorships in the Departments of Psychology, Radiation Oncology, and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Allan Hamilton is also a consultant to ABC’s medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

His book The Scalpel and the Soul: Encounters with Surgery, the Supernatural, and the Healing Power of Hope was released in 2008 and has been translated into several languages. Dr. Hamilton has given more than three hundred public speeches and addresses.

Dr. Hamilton has led more than a half dozen clinical research trials on brain tumors and achieved national prominence for his work in developing computer-guided methodology for safely guiding neurosurgical probes to targets deep inside the brain.

Dr. Hamilton is a past Fellow of the International Albert Schweitzer Foundation for his medical work in Gabon, Africa. His physician peers have selected him as one of the “Best Doctors in America” from 1995–2008. In 2000, he was chosen as one of the “Leading Intellects and Thinkers of the 21st Century.”

Allan Hamilton has appeared on television programs including MSNBC, CNN, PBS, and the Discovery Channel and has been featured in national newspapers such as the New York Times, USA Today, and Newsweek magazine.

  • View Extended/Alternate Bio

    After studying art in college, which earned him a career as a janitor, Allan J. Hamilton, MD, FACS, went on to attend Harvard Medical School, and to become the chief of neurosurgery and chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. He currently holds a main appointment as a Professor in Neurosurgery as well as professorships in Radiation Oncology, Psychology, and Electrical and Computer Engineering Dr. Hamilton also is the Executive Director of The Arizona Simulation Technology and Education Center (ASTEC) at The University of Arizona College of Medicine.

    The recipient of several international awards for his groundbreaking work in the area of minimally invasive stereotactic neurosurgery of the spine, Dr. Hamilton′s research interests continue in the areas of emerging technologies. He has been involved in developing new polymers for in situ chemotherapy delivery for malignant brain tumors and looking at the further development of polymers that can carry multiple chemotherapeutic agents into the brain.

    As an educator of tomorrow′s doctors, Dr. Hamilton employs the use of computer-assisted virtual environments and robotics with cutting edge technology, yet also nurtures the “soul” of those medical students with an innovative course, “Medicine and Horsemanship: An Introduction to Nonverbal Human Interaction at the Bedside”

    In addition to his book, The Scalpel and the Soul, Dr. Hamilton is a prolific writer for both lay and scientific audiences with more than fifty scientific peer-reviewed articles and a dozen medical textbook chapters, a monograph on treating brain tumors, and has also published five lay articles on his experiences as a physician. Allan is a practiced, comfortable public speaker and has given more than three hundred public and professional presentations on subjects from “Ten Spiritual Rules to Improve Patient Survival,” to “Harnessing Computer Guidance Systems to Better Resect Brain Tumors.”

    Dr. Allan Hamilton has been featured on National Public Radio, “CNN-Anderson Cooper’s 360,” and The Discovery Channel on a wide variety of medical topics in his areas of expertise. He has earned a reputation as a speaker who can discuss sophisticated medical topics in a manner that is accessible and understandable to the public. He has been a public proponent of re-establishing what he terms “intimacy at the heart of Modern Medicine” and a public critic against the escalating rate of medical errors in American healthcare.

    Dr. Hamilton serves as a Script Consultant to the popular television show “Grey′s Anatomy”, lending stories from his vast experiences as intern, resident and ultimately renowned surgeon.

Dr. Allan Hamilton Speaking Videos

Bring Dr. Allan Hamilton to Speak Live at Your Event


Check Speaker Availability

Dr. Allan Hamilton's Speech Descriptions

Dr. Allan Hamilton has given over three hundred public presentations and speeches to both lay and professional audiences and is widely sought as a motivational speaker. His presentations are engaging and thought provoking as well as being humorous and uplifting. His rich experience of the spiritual core of people’s lives is made more compelling by his mainstream medical background.

    The Future of Healthcare in the Twenty-First Century

    Can American Healthcare Recover? How Medical Errors Are Killing Us and What We Need to Do to Fix It
    Dr. Hamilton exposes the crisis in the public’s lack of confidence and trust in the American Healthcare system. He discusses why medicine in the United States is spiritually ill, and why increasing numbers of doctors and nurses are leaving the medical field out of disgust and disappointment. He proposes that American Medicine needs to set about fixing itself the same way corporations need to reinvent themselves to stay successful and competitive. He offers concrete examples of where concentrated efforts can produce large reductions in error rates. Finally, he offers a simple but radical solution for patients and healthcare workers to forge new bonds based on mutual trust and fulfillment.

    Medicine and Emerging Technology: For Better or Worse?
    Dr. Hamilton has spent his entire medical career developing and applying emerging technologies in surgery, from computer guidance systems to virus-induced gene therapy. He explores the future directions that the newest, high-technology innovations may be taking, as well as the problems and promises they could hold for patients and physicians alike. Using examples drawn from the Hollywood screen to the battlefield of the Middle East, Dr. Hamilton analyzes how technology created to address the problems of the present can evolve to pose future unexpected results – both good and bad. From the humanistic potential of alternative medicine, to the efficiency of medical records embedded in implantable chips… From the elimination of surgical error by robot, to the cold culling of patients’ prognoses by computer… Dr. Hamilton delivers an entertaining, tantalizing, and, occasionally, alarming look at what may lie ahead for all of us in the healthcare system.

    Your Money or Your Life: Capitalism, Multinational Corporations & Global Healthcare
    Dr. Hamilton explores the history behind some of medicine’s greatest scientific breakthroughs and how these discoveries eventually emerged onto the landscape of medical care. He discusses the financial costs of delivering “cutting edge” medical technology, the political issues surrounding inequities in healthcare access and availability, and, finally, the broader ethical issues of delivering better global healthcare at reduced costs.

    From Barnyard to Bedside: How Horses Teach Doctors the Secrets of Better Bedside Manners
    Ten years ago Dr. Hamilton had a notion that doctors would be far more respectful about their body language and bedside manners if their patients all weighed 1200 pounds. He developed an entire curriculum for medical students to help them learn non-verbal communication skills by working closely with horses. Dr. Hamilton’s program had now been replicated at nearly a dozen universities around the world. In this moving presentation, Dr. Hamilton shares the lessons he has learned and shows videos demonstrating the powerful “voice” of our body’s language.

    The Human Brain and the Pursuit of Life, Lust, and Love

    The Human Brain’s Mirror Neuron System: Maybe Love Is All We Need
    The accidental discovery of a mirror neuron system (MNS) in the primate brain was made in 1995. Dr. Hamilton discusses the significant role that mirror neurons play in our everyday life. We literally feel the pain of others. Dr. Hamilton elucidates the neuro-physiological basis for empathy and compassion. The MNS has important implications about humanity’s appreciation for art, architecture, and literature. It may explain why we love or hate; why we find a soul mate, or seek an archenemy; and why, as a species, we’re capable of great acts of altruism or atrocity.

    Does the Key to Spirituality Lie in the Right Hemisphere of Our Brains?

    Discover why the non-verbal right hemisphere of the brain may hold the key to spiritual fulfillment for each of us. Dr. Hamilton begins by reviewing the evolution and biology of brain development. Was the success of the human species as the master predator and consumer of our planet achieved at the expense of spiritual fulfillment and emotional well-being? Did the emergence of language lead to the isolation of an individual consciousness? After providing insight into these questions, Dr. Hamilton reviews skills we can practice to access our right hemisphere’s potential and rediscover our birthright to feel communion with all of creation.

    Media, Medicine, and Creativity

    "I Play One on Television”—the Medical Profession as Depicted in TV Medical Drama, or How Did We Get from “Marcus Welby” to House in Fifty Years?
    For the very beginning of television, organized medicine understood the power of this new medium to shape the public’s perception about physicians and healthcare. Still, TV medical dramas have evolved from the relatively idealistic personae of Drs. James Kildare and Ben Casey in the 1960’s to the currently more realistic, gritty presentation of characters in current TV dramas such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “CSI” shows, and “House.” As a medical script consultant to both “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” Dr. Hamilton reviews how and why the depiction of doctors and medicine has evolved so dramatically from 1950 to the present.

    Group Seminar/Workshop: From Bedside to Script: the Art and Science of Being a Medical Script Consultant

    Objectives of this seminar are:

    • Understand the principles of a TV story arc
    • Identify the central dramatic elements within a story arc
    • Select a hypothetical patient with a specific history, diagnosis,and clinical course that meets the needs of the proposed story arc
    • Identify three principles of the potential conflict between dramatic needs of TV and the scientific veracity of the medical profession

    This workshop will make participants comfortable with developing patient histories from their own experience and applying them to several hypothetical story arcs as set by TV series producers and writing teams. Examples from current and past television dramas will be reviewed.

    The Ten Secrets They Never Told Me When I Became A Writer
    Dr. Hamilton discusses the insights he has gained as a writer of two books and as a script consultant for two hit TV shows. His secrets wouldn’t be secret if he told them all here. Suffice it to say, he covers writer’s block, writer’s envy (hating authors far more talented than oneself), evaluating the competition, and waiting for your manuscript. He explores developing a marketing strategy for your book, hard copies and e-books, internet marketing, writing blogs and righting wrongs, facing up to Facebook, birding and Tweets, why publicity tours are monuments to the past, reading to write and writing to read, writing so it sounds right (write), and the art and craft of story-telling.

    From Round Pen to Boardroom: Learn to Harness the Power of Non-Verbal Communication from the Masters of Body Language—Horses!
    This course has been taught to Fortune 500 corporations. The program focuses on how to ensure that we demonstrate integrity; namely, that our words and our bodies send the same message. This course focuses on non-verbal language that anyone can invoke to make his or her communication more effective and powerful. Eighty percent of human communication is non-verbal, and yet we spend almost all of our attention on the spoken language. This course covers non-verbal cues during casual conversation, in public presentations, in interviews, and working with team members and co-workers. The course also focuses on communication situations were non-verbal cues are vital: i.e., when someone is lying, when breaking bad news, when trying to inspire listeners. Horses are the masters of non-verbal communication. You will come away amazed at how your abilities will be developed and honed to new, almost unbelievable levels after you complete this course.

    Spirituality, Health, and Wellness

    Spirit and Hope: The Power to Overcome Illness
    Dr. Hamilton outlines five ways to cultivate the practice of hope. He explains why patients and families must overthrow statistics, get beyond prognoses, and find a path to recovery. He discusses the need to drop our habits of despair. Illness can facilitate a freedom that can take us from physical breakdown to spiritual breakthrough. Dr. Hamilton provides guidelines for creating personal healing rituals. Finally, he advises patients and their families to help transform their medical providers into miracle makers.

    The Heroic Journey of Spiritual Transformation: “Can I Still Get On That Flight, and Are There Any Upgrades Available?”
    How does spiritual transformation happen in a person’s life? Is it a random event, like being struck by lightning? Or can we know the journey is coming? What should we pack for the trip? From Greek legend to real cancer survivors, from the story of Buddha’s enlightenment to near-death experiences in the operating room, Dr. Hamilton explores what qualities and characteristics define those pivotal transformational experiences that can change our lives. He works with audiences to see what “rules” may help guide us on our heroic journey as we seek answers to the questions: “Why are we here, and what is the purpose of our lives?”

    Lessons from Medicine—Learned the Hard Way
    Based on experiences with his own patients, Dr. Hamilton explores: (1) Why do medical personnel rely on laws of science to explain natural phenomena, but become uneasy when supernatural issues intrude into healthcare? (2) Why every patient and practitioner must learn to respect and harness the supernatural potential of hope; and (3) The paradox between the localization of the mind versus consciousness. Additionally, Dr. Hamilton explains twenty rules by which patients and physicians can learn to live and thrive.

    When Are Doctors Ready to Talk About It?
    Drawing from his personal journey from janitor to Harvard-trained physician, Dr. Hamilton investigates spiritual and emotional issues elucidated by the field of medicine: Do dreams play a vital role in our lives? Do near-death experiences tell us about what life may hold after death? Can hope change the course of a patient’s recovery? What can we do to emotionally and spiritually enhance our own recuperation? He concludes with an exploration of why American Medicine is on the threshold of a spiritual, holistic revolution.

    Ten Things Patients Can Learn to Make Themselves Better, Faster
    Dr. Hamilton outlines the ten important lessons his patients have taught him about getting better: (1) Take a Spiritual Inventory, (2) Cultivate Your Garden, (3) Make Amends, (4) Be Grateful, (5) Devote Yourself to Your Passions, (6) Connect with Nature, (7) Reinvent Yourself, (8) Pace Yourself, (9) Celebrate Yourself, and (10) Go Wild. Dr. Hamilton discusses each principle, and illustrates them with stories inspired by real life patients. He presents practical techniques to convert these principles into habits.

    Eyes Wide Shut: Why Medicine Needs to Focus on Spirituality to be Relevant in the 21st Century
    Dr. Hamilton explores the erroneous prevalent perception that scientific advancements and spiritual pursuits are incompatible in 21st century healthcare delivery. Quite to the contrary, Dr. Hamilton advocates that a holistic integration of spirituality and science is precisely what is needed in modern medicine. He describes real-life stories-from his own experiences as a brain surgeon--to illustrate where these two forces come together. Incorporating the power of patients’ emotional and spiritual resources enhances their care. The impact of negative emotion on the immune system is investigated, as is the role of positive perception on the placebo effect. Through out the presentation, Dr. Hamilton punctuates his presentation with moving, inspiring, and, sometimes, funny stories drawn from the magic of real life.

What People are Saying about Seeing Dr. Speak

Rating Entries

    “Dr Hamilton was received by a large and enthusiastic room packed with
    almost 1,000 attendants at the Ramtha School of Enlightenment. His talk
    was being simultaneously translated into five different languages and
    projected on large screen televisions and, still, he managed to feel perfectly
    comfortable and at ease on the stage. Dr. Hamilton not only shared his own
    stories about the spiritual challenges that arise when patients face serious
    illness or major surgery, but also the impact they had in his own life. He
    also illustrated how those experiences shed light on all of us–our values,
    our legacy, and the way we lead out daily lives. He shared with the audience
    his personal experiences witnessing the classes here at Ramtha, much to
    the audience’s delight, and had a relaxed and easy-going style handling
    questions posed by audience members.”
    Steve Klein, Manager, Event Services
    Ramtha School of Enlightenment

    “It was a rare pleasure having Dr. Hamilton serve as our opening speaker
    for this year’s 2009 Physicians′ Roundtable in Greenville, North Carolina. His
    speech about the importance of spirituality in the context of 21st century
    medicine helped set a tone of both conscience and conscientiousness in the
    conduct of research, which will ensure the public benefits from cutting edge
    clinical research. He struck the right opening note for the entire conference.”
    Sue Vogan, Peer Observations Magazine

    “Dr. Hamilton’s talk to our Chaplain’s Meeting at the University of
    Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA was attended not only by
    university chaplains, but also by chaplains from the Seattle Cancer Care
    Alliance (SSCA) and other medical centers in Seattle. Dr. Hamilton enabled
    participants to frame medical care in the larger context of spiritual needs,
    a topic too often neglected by medical practitioners. His moving stories not
    only transmitted the human dilemma of being a patient but also a physician.
    As a result of this meeting Dr. Hamilton’s book has been used in patient care,
    placed in the library at the SCCA and recommended to many patients by
    the patients who′ve read it. I now use it in my work as a hospice chaplain,
    especially the chapter called “Soul Survivor.”
    Lindalee Purdy, M.Div, Seattle Hospice Chaplain

    Allan is an outstanding speaker. He′s inspiring, and what he has to say about
    health and spirituality will benefit everyone who hears it. We received very
    enthusiastic feedback from attendees.
    Michael Larsen, Co-director
    Writing for Change Conference

    Dr. Hamilton is a rare admixture of intellectual competence, scientific
    knowledge obtained by rigorous standards, and extraordinary talent for
    writing and speaking about the most complex aspects of being human and
    what may be possible for humanity.

    His artful presentation about our mirror-neuron system, was entirely
    capitivating. By interweaving technical research and humor, he educated
    attendees about the functions of our brains and provided insights into where
    research on the brain may lead us. Listening to this expert is to experience
    man’s connection to man – literally through his presence and intellectually
    through his remarks.
    JoAnne Shanks, Esq.
    Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS)
    Tucson Community Group

    We are so pleased that Dr. Hamilton was able to come speak to our hospice
    volunteers at our annual luncheon. His talk on spirituality and the important
    place it has in medicine was full of hope and insight. Its tone was warm and
    familiar, and the content very pertinent to our work. Dr. Hamilton spoke of
    miracles and seemingly inexplicable phenomena while staying grounded in
    his real-life experiences and the broader context of medicine. His vast wealth
    of experiences as a surgeon is evident as he links personal anecdotes to the
    important lessons we can each learn from them.
    Seth Turner, Volunteer Coordinator
    Tucson Medical Center Hospice

    For the past four years, Dr. Allan Hamilton has been one of the talented
    providers of support and programming to the Sunstone Cancer Support
    Centers. Dr. Hamilton and his partner, Dr. Jane Hamilton, have worked with
    Sunstone in the development of outstanding equine therapy programming
    for cancer patients, both adults and children, caregivers and staff.

    Dr. Hamilton is a gifted physician who has an astonishing capacity
    for empathy. He is an excellent teacher with the ability to adapt his
    presentations to the level of his students.

    Sunstone is a not-for-profit organization and Dr. Hamilton has been
    incredibly generous in gifts of time and program talents to assure that our
    cancer survivors have a rich and invigorating experience. He is a delight to
    work with.
    Patricia Harmon, Executive Director
    Sunstone Cancer Support Centers

    We have had a multitude of people present at our annual health fair.
    Dr. Hamilton’s talk has been one of our best to date. We received many
    comments about the lessons people learned from Dr. Hamilton’s talk. They
    particularly loved the stories about his time in Africa. We thank him for
    sharing himself and his spiritual journey.
    Mary Kelley, MS, ARNP
    Health Ministry Coordinator
    Unity of Tucson

Have You Seen this Speaker? Leave a Star Rating.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Books by Dr. Allan Hamilton:
    The Scalpel and the Soul: Encounters with Surgery, the Supernatural, and the Healing Power of Hope
    Based on thirty years experience as Harvard-educated brain surgeon, The Scalpel and the Soul: Encounters with Surgery, the Supernatural, and the Healing Power of Hope tells the stories behind remarkable patients and the moral and spiritual lessons they can teach everyone.

    In this book, Dr. Hamilton shares a rare glimpse of how the spiritual and the supernatural manifest themselves even in the high-tech world of 21st century intensive care units or operating rooms.

    The Scalpel and the Soul explores how premonition, superstition, hope and faith not only become factors in how patients feel, but can change the outcomes as well. The stories within this book validate the spiritual manifestations physicians see every day. The tales empower patients to voice their spiritual needs in medical situations. When the life is threatened, the soul can exert mysterious powers. Embracing that knowledge can help anyone, patient or caregiver, to cope with difficult and challenging times.
    Order Here

Related Speakers


Need help filling the seats at your next meeting / event?

Call us / email us / check availability and fee for your favorite speaker.

Get in touch
Call us: (760) 656-8770
Toll free in the US: (877) 717-5327