Thursday, March 14, 2019

My New Book is Coming Soon!

It is with tremendous JOY I announce that my new book, Recapturing Joy in Medicine, is coming this May 2019!

After years of research, writing, and revisions, the book is now around the corner, and I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. As you know, I have now been speaking to physicians, medical students, residents, and health professionals for over a decade, even before physician burnout was talked about like it is now. All these years of interacting with hundreds of physicians one-one-one before and after my presentations have equipped me with so much knowledge and awareness to add to my twenty-five years in medicine and leadership that began when I served as chief resident and as president of the Florida Association of Family Medicine Residents.  

It's been a tremendous privilege I have learned so much from my colleagues. This resource is an expression of my gratitude for you your dedication, your unswerving commitment to our patients, and your excellence and my deep desire to bless, encourage, and empower each of you!

The book is practical and hopeful as well as a call to action. I remind physicians of the sacrifices we made to become physicians and of the privilege we have to care for our patients in what remains a noble profession!


Written by a physician still navigating the dizzying reality of our healthcare crisis, this book inspires a proactive journey toward personal wellness, professional fulfillment, and a deeper sense of meaning. Fully informed yet not disheartened by modern hurdles, Dr. Sánchez confronts barriers and highlights what must be done to preserve the patient-physician relationship, restore our hearts, and rekindle the sacred in our noble profession.

Thank you for helping spread the word about this upcoming resource for physicians, medical students, residents, fellows, medical schools, training programs, health systems ... and all who love and work alongside these dedicated professionals!

To receive a notice as soon as the book is available, let us know HERE!

My new website is now live; check it out HERE!

Thank you for your loving support and encouragement throughout the writing process! It's been long and difficult and full of obstacles and, yet, here we are!! Just like our training: every drop of sweat and tears and all the long nights are worth it to experience the joy that awaits in the morning

There is a morning ahead for every physician who is burned out, burning out, or recovering from burnout. Yep. That's all of us right there, I know! Stay encouraged, find your tribe, and continue to rely on one another just like you did in training! 

If the system continues to disempower and undervalue physicians despite our sacrifices and expertise, then it is time for physicians to empower one another.

That is what I am here to do, and that is what this book will accomplish for our profession. I can't wait.

Stay encouraged!

Dr. Mari
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  
Psalm 30:5

Thursday, December 27, 2018

My Orlando Sentinel Podcast Interview

Last month, I had the privilege of talking to the Orlando Sentinel about physician wellness, burnout prevention, and my upcoming book, Recapturing Joy in Medicine. I am thrilled that a local reporter is covering the story of how the practice of medicine feels like an obstacle course in 2018, and how this continues to affect physicians and patients.

Follow this link to hear the 30-minute podcast interview and read the article. Feel free to share it with medical students, residents, fellows, physicians in practice, training programs, and hospital systems. You may contact me here to receive a message as soon as the book is available.

My hope is that Recapturing Joy in Medicine will encourage my colleagues to speak up and support one another to rise above the boulders on our path. 

Photo by Doran Erickson on Unsplash

Dr Mari

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Christmas Gift for All

Last night, I was blessed to attend a moving Christmas Eve service with our church family. I sat with our boys, my husband officiated, and our young daughter joined the sopranos in the adult choir. Surrounded by music, she had front row seats to the strings and wind sections and loved every minute of it. Songs like The First Noel and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel filled my heart with the joy of Christmas in a special way, knowing one of those voices came from our sweet daughter. 

Of all the heartwarming songs, the most special for me this year was Silent Night. As the clergy knelt at the altar, their backs to the congregation, we were drawn to join them to worship the newborn king. I felt like one of the shepherds beholding the child at the manger. Time seemed to stand still as these scriptures reminded me of the hope of God's promise,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

My child, along with everyone at the altar, led us to worship the child who leads us to a life of grace, of mercy, of forgiveness. He ushered an eternal kingdom in a temporal, broken world; a kingdom of justice and grace in a world in desperate need. In his kingdom of peace, love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other (Psalm 85:10).

When I lie down to sleep tonight, memories of this Christmas day will fill my mind. I will recall our festive hats, gifts exchanged with the best neighbors, our family walks, hugs, and laughter, the clever homemade Jeopardy game I lost gladly to well-educated children, meaningful texts full of grace and cheer, phone calls, invitations, cookies, and conversations with loved ones not seen nearly enough. I will also recall specific gifts, like the perfect laptop case and the various homemade gifts that will bring lasting joy.

And after all quiets down, my heart will swell as I give thanks once more for the greatest gift of all, the gift that makes all good things possible. James 1:17 reminds us that every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. As I lie down to sleep, I will give thanks for the One who came wrapped in swaddling cloths to enter an imperfect world and fill it with light, mercy, and grace.

This week we were blessed to seefor just a few seconds—a full moon over our Christmas tree. Having visited Assisi, the home of St. Francis, this summer, my first reaction was to welcome Sister Moon, as he called her. Then I thought of John 9:5, where Jesus proclaimed, 

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Sister Moon over our tree. (© 2018)
I'm so glad I took a photo right away, for about two minutes later, we couldn't see the moon anymore. 

The good news of Christmas is that the light of Christ does not dim or depart the heart that welcomes it. The good news is that he's here to stay, meeting us right where we are, and replacing our chaos with order, our fears with hope, and what is dead with life. And the great news is that he came for all, just as we are. 

This Christmas, perhaps more than ever, I am so grateful for the gift of life, health, friendship, and love. I am grateful for the gift of faith, family, and love. And I am grateful for the gift of time to embrace and know the One who made himself small and vulnerable—for you and for me.

I wish you a blessed and meaningful Christmas season full of all the goodness that comes down from the Father of lights.

Dr Mari

Friday, September 21, 2018

A New Dawn: How Music Helped My Island Heal

by Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD

A year ago yesterday, on September 20, 2018, Hurricane María made landfall in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico at 6:15 AM, changing the island in an instant. From that day on, what had been easy became difficult or impossible and, for nearly everyone, the basics previously taken for granted were suddenly gone, overnight. Although many outside the island didn't grasp how unprecedented these events were, the uniquely hospitable and resilient people of Puerto Rico faced the disaster with inspiring generosity, grit, and grace.

Yesterday, beauty and hope filled Yabucoa's skies at exactly the same time as the storm hit a year ago. Alberto Carrión joined the University of Puerto Rico Choir (Cayey campus) to sing Amanecer Borincano, which speaks of a new dawn in the land of Borínquen, the Taíno Indian name for the island of Puerto Rico.

Directed by internationally renowned choir conductor, Amarilis Pagán-Vila, the choir greeted the one-year anniversary with joyful singing. Sprinkled throughout is the heartwarming song of our beloved coquí, as if to remind us, "I'm still here. Don't you worry. I'm still here."

This beautiful tribute to the spirit and soul of the people of Puerto Rico reminds me that a rainbow awaits us after every storm even if, at times, we can't discern it fully or must wait for its full display.  

May this gesture of hope fill our hearts with the joy of living and help us count our blessings today and every day. And may it move us to pray for and support those now finding their way to a new life after Hurricane Florence as well.

Watch the video (in Spanish) here.

Let the Light Shine!

Dr Mari

For more inspiration in light of the hurricanes, read A Poem for Borinquen (and a Message of Hope).

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Giving Physicians Control Over Their Futures

In 2018, healthcare has become an obstacle course. As physicians, the most highly-trained professionals in the healthcare team, we now spend 2/3 of our time on administrative tasks and 1/3 on patient care. We didn't sacrifice years of our lives and incur huge amounts of debt to become data entry clerks. No wonder the rates of burnout are so high!

Although the challenges are real, this is a time of tremendous opportunity. Physicians are rising up, empowering one another and advocating effectively for patient safety and for our noble profession. This is one reason I've partnered with Reimbursement Rx to help equip physicians to get paid for the work they already do while remaining focused on what drew us to medicine:  

Caring for people with excellence and compassion.

This summer, I'll be the guest speaker June 16-17 in Englewood, New Jersey during an information-packed seminar to empower our colleagues. Join us to learn about:

Contract Negotiation
Proper Coding & Billing
Health Insurance & Medicare Contracting
HMO & Foundation Contracting
Contracting SMARTER as a Healthcare Professional
RVU's & CEO's
... and so Much More!

As guest speaker, I will inspire and help equip physicians with practical ways to recapture the joy and heart of medicine.

Help me spread the word about this unique seminar

Sign up before May 18 for a discounted rate!

Contact me here if you have questions.

Take Control of Your Financial Future.


Empowering Docs,

Dr Mari

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My Poem for Physicians Who Care

As a physician leader, I recognize the public needs to be educated as to what's happening in healthcare, for the crisis we're experiencing impacts everyone. For instance, there are now ten non-clinical administrators for every physician in this country. This means a greater portion of every healthcare dollar goes to paying for staff who have nothing to do with direct patient care. Yet, these administrators dictate and control much of what physicians can and must do (from time spent with each patient to supervisory responsibilities for others in the healthcare team with an unfair burden of liability). Physicians are forced to see more patients in less time, many of whom are sicker than ten years ago and on more medications. Despite mounting and exhausting obstacles to excellent, compassionate care, physicians strive to care for people every day according to our high standards, placing patients first.

As medical care becomes increasingly complex with the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and many other chronic illnesses, the standard of care has been dropping, with an explosion of non-physician team members with significantly less training than physicians being given clinical responsibilities for which they are not adequately trained. Although they have an important role to play as valued members of the healthcare team, in many settings they simply don't have adequate supervision. And while the growth in physician numbers has been stunted for over forty years (see graph below) and there are not enough residency spots for every graduating, well-trained medical student, the numbers of non-clinical (and very expensive!) administrators and non-physician team members continue to rise exponentially.

In 2017, physicians have less and less control with more responsibility and liability. No wonder physician burnout is at an all-time high. What's truly remarkable is that it isn't higher, and I believe that is due to our high levels of resilience, commitment, and dedication to our profession and to our patients. Although this poem is different from most of what I typically post here, I was inspired to write it after becoming a patient and experiencing the "other side" of healthcare. Like most physicians I know, I long for the day when healthcare returns to placing patient care at the center of all we do, with the high standards of care that are a foundational part of physician training in medical school, medical residency training, and medical fellowships.

Here's my poem, written to inspire my colleagues to say, enough is enough, and stand up for patients and a high standard of care. Yes, this takes courage, and it is precisely what's needed. (An explanation of the many acronyms is included below.)

A New Lexicon for Physicians

by: Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD

Imagine if PQRS and ICD-10,
EHRs and the looming MACRA,
all stood for something else,
like measures of meaning and care
aligned with what patients need
and with who we are:
true servants at heart.

These sly abbreviations
champion some other dream
that hijacked our profession
and disrupts the healthcare team.

But we refuse to abbreviate care,
cut corners, detach,
and forget who we are.

I dream of autonomy
and its friend, common sense,
and that sacred relationship we all still defend.

I dream of scaling that fence
built by faceless EHRs
that split
my vocation … from … the human person
I vowed to assist.

So why not rename
the despised click-click-clicker
that keeps us  a – u – t – o – m – a – t – e - d
and every misnomer that traps us
‘til we’re duly subordinated.

Here’s a new dictionary of medical terms
born of our noble dream — not theirs.

Physician, Arise! This is my earnest plea.
Quit playing someone else’s maddening game.
Rules that hinder, intrude, disrespect, and inflame.
Success is, now, L I S T E N — up to you and me.

Mandates and regulations keep choking.
Administrators blindly add more stress.
Care suffers while we smolder, too busy to voice our distress.
Remember your Hippocratic Oath?
Anyone else take that pledge?

We know what matters most.
Our patients are first.

Make another vow, for the future’s at stake.
It’s time to stand up; we must stay wide awake.
Patients deserve much less haste, something better.
Sacred relationships front and center — forever.

I believe in you,
Colleague. You’re ready!
Dare to speak your truth and to STAND!
10 thousand more voices all over this land.

A new future requires a return to the basics.
Practice your craft. We cannot be complacent.
Make everything count for you and your patient.

It is time to heal our profession. 
Let’s scrub in and start healing our nation.

Let us all work together to see

Including our own.

 Physician colleagues, stand up!

Dr Mari

PQRS: Physician Quality Reporting System 
ICD-10: International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 
EHR: electronic health records 
MACRA: Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 
CHIP: Children's Health Insurance Program 
MIPS: Merit-based Payment Incentive System 
APM: Advance Payment Model

Click here for my website. For more on modern trends in healthcare (with encouragement), see Hope for Physicians: A New Paradigm. 

© 2017 Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD. All Rights Reserved. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Poem for Borinquen (and a Message of Hope)

I wrote this simple poem as a teenager growing up in the metropolitan city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I wrote it while driving to San Sebastián with Mami to visit my beautiful Abuelita Patria and the rest of our family on the western side of the island. Many of those familiar, picturesque roads to San Sebastián are now gone, swept away by hurricane María. I'm so thankful that they live on in my mind, where I continue to enjoy the landscapes while we all await their return in time.

My heart longs for my island and its people. The images are tough to assimilate so, every day, I turn my longing into fervent prayers. This poem I wrote so long ago is about my patria (my homeland) and the love in my heart for the jíbaro in the mountains, inland, where they live surrounded by the beauty of God's creation yet, at times, lacking luxuries of modern life like cement roofs and walls. This, of course, makes them more vulnerable to the destruction brought on by hurricanes.

The jíbaro is the backbone of our culture and the birthplace of island hospitality. They are beautiful and kind, always giving cheerfully of what little they have ... and now they desperately need us to be generous to them. I know they continue to work tirelessly every day to restore the land, try to salvage crops, and (especially) to help and support their neighbors, regardless of the cost. I am so thankful for the outpouring of generosity and good will toward the people of Puerto Rico, and I pray it continues until every need is met.

Here is my simple poem of love for the kindness, generosity, and simplicity of every jibarito who stole my heart years ago, and taught me that joy and contentment are birthed by giving...

Mi Borinquen

Es mi patria
un sueño,
un destello,
un paraíso.
Es mi gente
tierra adentro
humilde, hermosa.
A ellos extraño
cuando estoy lejos
y nunca he vivido
entre ellos.

Photo credit Héctor M Semidey (photo of his drawing in pencil, ©1998)

As we all continue to process the ongoing events in Puerto Rico, the message of hope in this short sermon helps comfort the heart and settle the soul. May it help us all as we continue to do what we can in the midst of this tragedy, for we know and trust that "God weaves goodness into every story" (Fr. Russell).

In Hope,

Dr Mari

* Borinquen is the name the native Taíno Indians gave the island of Puerto Rico. It means "Land of the Valiant Lord." 

Overflow from the damaged Guajataca River Dam in San Sebastián on Sept. 23, 2017, following passage of Hurricane María. (Credit: Hector Retamal / AFP / Getty Images)

Translation of my teenage poem

My Borinquen

My homeland 
is a treasure,
a bright star,
a paradise.
And my people,
so beautiful,
so humble.
It is them I miss
when afar,
though I've not lived
among them.

I always lived in the city in Puerto Rico, though my heart belongs inland. I love you, jibarito! 
May God bless you and keep you.