What a joy it was to travel to Minnesota last week to make new friends, learn from fellow experts in wellness and burnout prevention, and provide the closing keynote at a physician wellness conference! It was lovely to be greeted by the daughter of a physician friend from Florida. She drove me around breathtaking landscapes, and we contemplated the peace and majesty of St. Paul’s Cathedral! We then entered little Italy in St. Paul and enjoyed authentic dining and shopping in a festive market and bistro.
After this heartwarming welcome to the Midwest, I spent several days being inspired by courageous colleagues who shared personal stories of triumph and renewed joy in the midst of loss. I attended fascinating sessions about the neuroscience of stress and resilience, heard beautiful stories of finding peace and joy through tough journeys, and loved being invited to engage in one of my favorite activities: writing! I had many uplifting conversations sprinkled with moments of lightness and fun with new and old friends. A few of us even got to create our very own Olaf — a truly unforgettable moment that may or may not have included a snowball fight!
I love seeing physicians enjoying each other’s company, and I especially love when I get to be one of them!
After all that, I had the blessing of presenting the closing keynote — Recapturing the Joy of Medicine — and brought together themes covered throughout the conference by speakers like Dr. Amit Sood, Dr. Joel Carter, and journalist Cathy Wurzer.* As we all considered practical ways to move from surviving to thriving in life and in medicine, I believe we all left inspired and empowered to change what we can where we are, beginning by taking that first next step.
As always, it was encouraging to hear from colleagues who left with new plans and specific next steps to change their reality and recapture the joy of serving people from a full heart. With every presentation I am blessed to provide, I continue to live into the verse that serves as my fuel for coaching and empowering people, Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
As I continue this work of encouraging, empowering, and equipping those who serve, I am constantly reminded of our need to focus on relationships, fight isolation, and foster community in life and at work. Conferences like this one that emphasize personal growth, restoring the heart, and building community give me hope for the future of medicine. Yes, it is disheartening to see the business of healthcare dismantling the heart of our noble profession. This is, in fact, why I wrote Recapturing Joy in Medicine, and why I continue to travel and labor to restore physicians’ hearts in the midst of an epidemic of burnout.
Yet, I am convinced this challenging time, this time of transition, is birthing something much greater in our profession and in our hearts, including a renewed and deeper commitment to each other, to our vocation in medicine, and to the people we serve. By supporting one another during such a time as this, we will emerge stronger and help transform medicine to meet the needs of people in more meaningful ways.
Together we can make this happen. In isolation, we are weak, but together we are strong, and can grow stronger. So, I ask you, what are you doing to grow stronger as a human being during these challenging times? If you can’t answer this question, perhaps it’s time to embark on a search for deeper meaning. It can start with a conversation with a colleague, reading a book, connecting with a small group of colleagues regularly, becoming more involved with your county or state medical society, your clinic or hospital. How we get there may involve different paths, but one thing applies to all of us: we need each other, perhaps more than ever.
Isolation keeps us in the dark; connection and community shine the light of hope and infuse meaning. Stay connected with your loved ones and with colleagues you trust, enjoy, and who inspire you. Together we can accomplish so much more. I’m so glad you’re here!
Want to keep the momentum from this conference growing? Find inspiration, hope, and next steps to consider in my latest book, Recapturing Joy in Medicine. It is practical, interactive, and hopeful, full of stories from my years in training, clinical practice, and leadership. And here’s a link to the conference I attended in Minnesota; perhaps you can attend next year!
* Check out Cathy Wurzer’s timely End in Mind initiative when you have a chance!