Monday, February 25, 2013

Radio Interview with Dr. Mari - Feb 25, 7pm EST

* UPDATE: Follow the link below (or this one) to listen to my radio interview. The live interview is now recorded there. *

Here's the link to my radio interview on Monday, February 25 at 7 pm Eastern time. Follow the link below and call in to listen to the interview, which will be co-hosted by Hope Matters and Rob Cares

I will share about my journey as a physician and writer, as well as the transformation that's taken place as I've learned to care for people from the heart. I will also share about my book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare, a 120-day devotional to refresh your soul as you care for others. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Purpose: An Antidote to Burnout

This week, I had another one of those conversations where I can no longer remain silent. A friend began to criticize a doctor, selling me the popular line that all his doctor cares about is money. I never used to feel a need to speak up for my colleagues, but I do now. With all the challenges and obstacles we face in healthcare, somebody needs to speak up for us so why not me!

I just read a terrific article addressing the epidemic (my term) of physician burnout and our need of resiliency training. As I read, I wondered, How many professions out there talk about needing to train in resiliency? Next time you see a doctor, try not to think about this: "One-third to one-half of physicians meet burnout criteria, leading to very real suffering among physicians and their families." That is a huge number of caregivers helping others while running on empty, discouraged and unfulfilled. To me, this is not only an epidemic it reflects a crisis in our profession that's affecting society as a whole.

Our task as physicians is extremely difficult; sometimes it seems impossible. We must be caring, compassionate, efficient, thorough, patient, engaging, knowledgeable, up-to-date, skillful, and able to diagnose, encourage, empower, inspire, treat, keep good records, and more ... all in half the time the typical sitcom lasts. It's tiring just thinking about what we're expected to do each day, especially when you consider other factors that affect what we do, such as patient denial, fear, anger, distrust, substance abuse, and personality disorders. In some ways, it's surprising that the rate of burnout isn't even higher!

The authors speak of a resiliency triad that helps strengthen those in the caring fields. This triad involves developing greater insight and a commitment to one's values and to a healthy lifestyle (sleep, nutrition, activity level, among others). I agree that these are all essential and sometimes lacking among my peers but, very often, it's because of the challenges built into our personalities, our profession, and the culture in which we practice. In the culture of medicine, rest is equated with laziness and a commitment to balance is often looked down upon by the overachieving, perfectionist personality that prevails.

The gifts we bring to our profession often become our greatest liability.

Yet, I agree that there is much we can do to help ourselves and care for people with compassion. Although at times what we must do seems impossible, we really can do it, but we must also have the courage to change ourselves and our environment when needed.

The privilege to care for others must be balanced with our need to care for ourselves and our families. I have also found that, as I align my practice of medicine with my values and who I am, I have much more joy, I am much more effective, and those I care for leave encouraged, inspired, and even empowered to live according to their own. This return to congruence has had more impact on my satisfaction and joy as a doctor than anything else I've done. It's helped me grow as an individual, and it's made me more compassionate.

Aligning what we do and how we help others with our values means we have the courage to be ourselves: broken, human, and vulnerable. This inner change impacts not only ourselves but our staff and our patients. This commitment to stop pretending we're perfect, this paradigm shift to be fully ourselves while caring for others begins to transform the culture in which we practice.

I believe questions like, Who am I? and Why am I here? have the power to transform our day-to-day lives. In every profession, we must find that spark that helps us do what we must do with joy. Finding our purpose and living it out becoming who we were created to be  is a source of contentment that also increases our effectiveness. It's a win-win!

So what can we start doing to achieve that today? And tomorrow. And the next day....

I invite you to have the courage to be yourself. 

Joyfully,
Dr Mari

Learn more about my journey to greater wholeness in my book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare.

Quote from Physician Resilience and Burnout: Can You Make the Switch? Family Practice Management, Jan-Feb 2013.