I struggled with the ‘burn’ of working as a physician in medicine for many years.
I don’t quite think I even recognized that it was a ‘burn’ until I was practically melted down to the waxy remnants of a bare-boned me. It finally took for me to make a bold move – one that involved taking a step back from the field of medicine itself – to regroup, and find the time to re-evaluate what was really important in life.
- Now this is the point where I quickly pause, to mention semantics and then note that I’m leaving them aside. I do realize that the term ‘burnout’ has now come into question, and there is an ongoing debate on whether or not it should be referred to as that (vs. moral injury, or even human rights violations). Thank you to all the SoMeDocs and other personalities, like Dr. Pamela Wimble and ZDogg, who address this regularly and help shed more light on the matter.
Not the First.
I wasn’t the first one to do it – to take a break from practicing in my field – and believe me, I won’t be the last. Many others before me have been known to follow through on their impulse to take that well-needed break.
Take a west coast cardiologist, for example, featured on my colleague’s blog, Physician on Fire, who wrote this about his time away from medicine, spent traveling:
“How was it awesome? It turned that frown upside down. I rid myself of the attitude and came back rejuvenated.”
Or a doctor featured in the BMJ, or British Medical Journal, who said that:
“My break has allowed me to refocus personal goals, ambitions, and priorities. I am certainly hoping to combine a part time clinical role with my wider public health and writing interests. Workplace flexibility in reality continues to keep me and my clinical experience within general practice and allows for a stimulating wider career, much of which I believe contributes to patient care.”
My Time Away.
It was during my own period of time away that I was able to recognize just how hard it had been on ‘the inside’.
I began to look around. Learned to take things in with an open mind. I smiled more. And laughed. It was just incredible how many things I had taken for granted – things that existed all around me and within my reach – that I now enjoy at more than just face value.
It was also during this time that I discovered myself.
Talents that I never knew I had were suddenly filling up minutes of hours of my everyday life, adding to the pleasure of my living them. New activities I took on brought in such a self-satisfying element to my days off, that I refused to let those dissipate, once I made the decision to actually step back into the stage (of medicine and medical practice).
Medicine a ‘War’ Zone. Metaphorically Speaking.
Before my first day back, I spent time organizing my thoughts – preparing for what I quite possibly knew could be a metaphorical war zone. Except I knew that, this time around, I would be prepared. So I armed myself with new-found creativity and an enthusiasm for finding an innovative spin on life. I vowed to find a way – no matter how different the two fields can be – to mesh medicine together with artistic expression, to hold on to my smile.
When I delved back into #medicine, I armed myself with new-found #creativity & an enthusiasm for finding an innovative spin on life. I vowed to find a way to mesh medicine together w/artistic expression, to hold on to my smile. Click To Tweet
Fast Forward. Today.
Today, I still wear that smile.
And I laugh. A lot.
I’ve found a way to feel satisfied with each and every day that passes, even when it isn’t necessarily one of the easier days.
I’m now also prepared to teach others, like me, to do the same. Through the SoMeDocs community I created, I try to teach the value of a self-brand, of finding the creative side to each of us, and of finding the niche we perfectly fit into, that makes us happier doctors, and human beings. Mine happens to have been found through writing, traveling, photographing, and more. But now I’d love to hear about yours.