Documentary Filmmaker & Primary Care Physician

Delaney Ruston chose her two career paths of primary care physician and documentary filmmaker for one reason: to help create positive change in people’s lives. Her experiences receiving medical care in free clinics while growing up motivated her to pursue health care. During her medicine residency, she began studying filmmaking for social impact and made her first award-winning film. 

For twenty years Delaney has split her time between providing primary care and creating short and feature-length documentaries, such as Screenagers. Examples of her other films include Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia about her father and Hidden Pictures about global mental health. These films have been screened widely, aired on PBS, and were at the forefront of advocacy campaigns, including with the World Health Organization.  For her work in using films to building movements, Delaney has won several awards including Harvard’s McLean National Council Recognition Award and New York’s Fountain House Advocacy Award. 

Delaney trained at Stanford Medical School, followed by a medicine residency at UC San Francisco. She has practiced and taught medicine in diverse settings including faculty positions at The University of Washington School of Medicine and at The Center for Medical Humanities, Bioethics and Compassionate Care at Stony Brook School of Medicine, NY.

Ruston has conducted investigative research in diverse fields—including biophysics at NIH, bioethics, and communication at UCSF and behavioral health as a Fulbright Scholar. She has spent the past six years intensely researching the impact of screen time on youth and solutions for screen time balance.

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For many years Ruston has been a sought-after speaker, giving keynote talks around the world, on topics related to behavioral health and on topics related to screen time. She presents to audiences in diverse settings --such as at K-12 schools, medical centers, conferences, universities, the United Nations, Google, The Aspen Institute, TEDx, Facebook, and Pixar. She has been interviewed by numerous news outlets including Forbes, NYT, Good Morning America, PBS News Hour, NPR and many others. 

Just as Screenagers appeals to both youth and adults, Delaney’s presentations do the same. She is regularly invited to schools to conduct day-long sessions with students and staff around the themes in Screenagers and to lead post-screening discussions in the evening with parents and youth.

Ruston’s presentations entertainingly weave together personal stories, science, and practical takeaways. She is a strong believer that people learn best from material that is personally relevant, absent of clichés and is presented in an interactive manner. 

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