As a busy physician, your downtime is at a premium. The question is are you making the most of your downtime to support yourself? Or do you find yourself using this premium time in ways that keep you stuck in your present condition.

Now more than ever before I’ve made the conscious decision to tap into the power of my downtime to support my overall well-being in every area of my life. It is all about the choices I make in my personal and professional life.

As we move into a new year and new energy I made the decision that it’s ME that is important to medicine. No more feeling depleted at the end of the day. No more putting my well-being on hold while pouring myself into my patients, their families, and the team. What I’ve learned over 2 decades of practicing medicine is that medicine wins when I am at my best. Medicine gets the best of me when I am physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually rested and restored.

Over the next 12 weeks I’m sharing with you the life skills, strategies, and practices that my clients and I use to pivot from striving in medicine to thriving, from giving our all to being restored, and from making self-care a thing to do on vacation to making it part of our daily life.

In the 12 Ways to H.E.A.L. physicians embrace how to:

  • Honor Yourself
  • Energize Your Day
  • Awaken to Possibilities
  • Live Courageously.

I introduced the key strategies in the 12 Days of Healing unit in the Physicians On Purpose Fb community. If you missed it, you can get a preview of it here.

12 Ways to H.E.A.L.:

#1 Moments in Gratitude

 It’s easy to find things to be grateful for in our lives. People are grateful for their families, friends, pets, homes, etc.

But when it comes to a career in medicine, it’s been my experience that we focus more on what needs to be improved than what is working and what we can be grateful for. Over time it’s all medical professionals focus on.

In fact we go to meetings where the primary focus is to look at what went wrong and what needs improvement. While there is tremendous value in such endeavors for the advancement of medicine, there is seldom focus on what is going well and what we can appreciate and be grateful for to balance out the experience.   Go to a quality improvement meeting and you’ll see what I mean. The heavy energy leaves the participants feeling drained and defeated. I remember coming out of a meeting feeling like we do more things that need improvement than we do right. And I know that just isn’t true.

When I started to apply the practice of gratitude to my career and not just my life, my perspective and energy shifted. It’s not about ignoring areas of improvement. Living and leading from a place of gratitude is about acknowledging the gifts and accomplishments in the work that my colleagues and I do. When we acknowledge what is going well, the focus shifts and there are more things to appreciate.

There is gratitude in the difficult conversations with patients because it’s another opportunity to grow in my faith, understanding, and compassion. It allows me to check in with myself and consider ways to enhance my communication for the next encounter.

There is gratitude for the residents, nurses, medical students and members of the interdisciplinary team who share their findings from their patient encounters adding valuable information to optimize patient outcomes.

There is gratitude in medicine locked within the high acuity patient who challenges our present knowledge and allows us to deepen our understanding of a disease process. The frustration of unanswered questions and not knowing is the breeding ground for consultations and research opportunities.

As we move forward in 2021 many things on the outside will continue to look as they did in 2020. The beauty of 2021 is that it offers the opportunity to experience our medical careers and lives in a new way. We start with moments each day in gratitude.

Putting Into Practice

In Your Downtime: Acknowledge 1-3 things you are grateful for in your clinical practice. I’m excited to hear what you’ve uncovered.