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What Matters to You

As physicians, we tend to offer solutions and process thinking to our patients to solve their problems and stumbling blocks. Yet, as a group, physicians are facing burnout at unprecedented rates and are having trouble solving our collective problem. Single physician centered solutions, like practicing mindfulness, can be helpful but doesn’t not impact the overall systems of practice.

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Find Your Soul

high on sweat textPostdoctoral training is rigorous and time-consuming. The emotional and physical implications of residency and fellowship call for trainees to take what little time they do have to participate in enjoyable activities that keep them going. As co-residents at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, we found the popular indoor cycling class, SoulCycle, to be our go-to wellness activity. Since our intern year, we have been arranging meet-ups at the music-blaring, sweat-dripping, lights-flashing dark room that is SoulCycle. Now, carrying on into our separate fellowships, we still find time to enjoy a 45-minute jam and cycle “sesh.”

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Shed a Tear

tear dropThroughout my 20-something year career in outpatient medicine, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful connection with many patients behind the closed doors of my offices.  There, patients can freely smile, cry, and share concerns without a fear of judgement.  This emotional sharing allows for a powerful connection between patient and physician.  Sometimes I know more about their inner thoughts and fears than their family does.  I’ve laughed with my patients as well as shed many a tear in solidarity with them.  Both encounters are equally powerful to me as well as to me patients.  Don’t be afraid to express your humanity in the moment.

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Don’t Sacrifice Your Creativity for Medicine; It Makes You a Better Doctor

brain artwork“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” If this statement hadn’t already been so eloquently articulated by Leonardo Da Vinci, it would have been my own. These words perfectly illustrate my view of the relationship between art and science, and how this relationship has fueled my unique path towards a career in medicine.

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Maintaining a Balance for Wellness

WellnessAs residents, working 12 hours a day, we often wonder, “How do we do it all?”. It feels easy to be overwhelmed at the idea of achieving wellness. While we strive to have the perfect professional and personal life balance, it sometimes feels impossible to read, exercise, do household chores, and fulfill the role of a loving partner/parent/child/friend when we return back home. 

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Lift Like a Girl

Woman liftingI knew residency wouldn’t be easy for someone as beholden to REM cycles as I am, though I naively believed I could make it through four years of training unaffected by their relative absence.  It turns out that was wishful thinking.  Although I took an oath to do no harm to my patients, learning how to practice medicine came at the cost of my own health and well-being.

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computer with to do notes Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed you literally didn’t know where to start sorting through your “to-do” list? Been there, done that.

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Just Be Still

Learning How to Unwind

Guy Hamilton and grandmotherWhen we were young, my brother and I spent much of our summers at my grandma and grandpa’s farm in Boswell, Indiana. Running around with our cousins in the country and being doted on by grandparents was typically much more appealing than being cooped up in the suburbs and getting assigned the perfunctory summer chores from our mom.

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Culinary Medicine

The Power of Nutrition

healthy food

Resident wellness is an important part of today's medical training. We at the Washington Hospital Family Medicine Residency have had the good fortune of having support from our administration in maintaining wellness of the residents in our program. With the help of the POMA Mental Health Task Force and the POMA foundation, we were granted funding to support our idea to create an event combining resident wellness with nutrition integrated with medicine, notably, culinary medicine, inspired by the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University. 

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Why Everyone Should Try Kickboxing

Why Everyone Should Try Kickboxing

female kickboxer Jab! Cross! Left body hook! Right front kick! Left side kick! Right roundhouse kick! Beads of sweat drip down my face as I finish Round Six. I am exhausted. The sense of accomplishment is palpable. Not only have I made it through one hour of high intensity exercise after a long day of work in the office, but I have learned a few valuable life lessons along the way.

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Have You Asked Yourself, "How Are You DOing?"

Understanding how nutrition affects, how you are DOing.

hamburger and a red and green appleHow are you DOing? Or, should I say, “How are you EATING?” During our medical training we spend hours learning about cardiac disease, pulmonary disease, blood disorders, diabetes and surgical emergencies, but relatively little about nutrition. Nutrition, unless properly balanced, has a negative impact on all organ systems!

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Don't Put Your Life on Hold

Mountain ClimbingOn my first day in the hospital as a new intern, I had the healthy amount of fear that most new DOs have. I anticipated that long hours and dedication to taking every opportunity to learn would leave very little time to spend with family, friends or for self-care. I thought I would be putting my personal life on pause during the next three years in order to focus on becoming the best clinician I could become. Starting a new hobby or interest didn’t even cross my mind. As a single person entering the rigorous life of residency, I also thought dating would be off the table for the foreseeable future.

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A Physician's Primary Prevention

Do you know how YOU are DOing?

black stethoscopeWe all know that doctor who worked constantly, took little time for himself or herself, always seemed to be doing “okay”, until you hear he or she had suffered a serious health concern, or worse yet, sudden death. Occurrences like this lead one to ask, “Could that have been prevented?”

Primary prevention. It is what we osteopathic physicians do well. Practicing evidenced-based medicine, identifying risk factors for leading causes of death and partnering with patients to reduce their relative risks for disease, and identify disease in the earliest treatable stages are the cornerstones of wellness. But when was the last time YOU saw your own physician? When was your last check-up? Do you know your blood sugar level, cholesterol level, BMI? How well is you blood pressure controlled? Are your immunizations and screenings up to date?

The leading cause of death for American physicians are the same top ten leading causes of death in the general population. According to the CDC, heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide account for the majority of deaths. That list has not changed much in nearly seven decades (although tuberculosis was listed as number 7 in 1949). What has changed is our ability as medical professionals to identify risks and improve life expectancy (from 65 years for men and 70 years for women in 1949 to 76 years for men and 79 years for women in 2017).

Follow your own good medical advice; see your DOctor, Doctor! She’ll want to know how you are DOing!

Saying No

It's OK to say no

Saying know on lined paper with red pencilAs physicians, we’re all familiar with the saying, “It takes 30 minutes to say no and 30 seconds to say yes.”  The unique demands of this profession – including the value of our time and patient satisfaction measures not always being what is best for the patient – sometimes cause us to fall into the trap of saying the easy yes when we should say the difficult no.

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Something To Look Forward To

Taking time for yourself

Lounge chairs next to a pool on the beachsideWith the demands of practicing medicine coupled with balancing personal responsibilities, how easy it is to get caught up in our obligations and what I call the “have-tos”? No wonder we feel ourselves needing a vacation from it all!

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