Doctors Gather From Around the World to Improve Physician Health and Resiliency

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Photo Courtesy Ted Grudzinski AMA

My mind is on fire with all I have absorbed in the past 10 days.

Two back to back trips to Chicago.
Two doctor conferences.
One offering ways for physicians to leave medicine.
The other trying to keep doctors happy and healthy in practice.

The first conference was SEAK’s Conference on Non-Clinical Careers for physicians.

The second was the International Conference on Physician Health 2010.

For those of you feeling alone in your struggles to practice medicine, and are doubting anyone cares, I have encouraging words for you.

Hundreds of physicians and researchers traveled from all over the globe to address the challenges faced by doctors today: how to enhance work-life balance and maintain personal health and well-being.

I met amazing people who are dedicating their lives and careers to this most important cause. The conference is a bienneial collaboration of the American, Canadian and British Medical Associations.  It drew participants from as far away as Norway, New Zealand, South America and Saudia Arabia.

During presentations of research, workshops and small group meetings, I heard much that was inspiring:

  • Initiatives to reduce the barriers to physicians receiving help for depression and life-stressors.
  • Efforts to increase awareness of physician suicide and address the root causes (300-400 physicians commit suicide each year).
  • Proactive approaches to medical student wellness, aiming to ensure lifelong health, happiness and success:
    The University of Vanderbilt School of Medicine is one of a number of US schools embracing this exciting trend.
    Georgetown University Medical School offers a popular Mind-Body-Medicine course for students.
    The University of Virginia School of Medicine just introduced a Mindfulness in Medicine course into the curriculum.
  • Physician Wellness Programs are providing resources at the academic institutions:
    The University of Vanderbilt Medical Center has an extensive program with a special courses on disruptive behavior and maintaining professional boundaries.
    UVA Medical School offers faculty and physicians peer to peer counseling, yoga, mindfulness classes and seminars.
  • Innovative strategies for enhancing success in the treatment of physicians with addictions and behavioral issues.
  • The World’s first comprehensive, on-line physician health and wellness resource: ephysicianhealth.com.

I was very touched by the energy and commitment so evident at this conference.

I knew I was with a passionate group of people when, after a full agenda of activities, the dinner conversations were invariably filled with animated talk from the day’s events. Underneath the different accents and perspectives, there was a common sentiment: much needs to be done to improve the lives of doctors and we are 100% committed to the cause. We are here to make a lasting difference.

The next AMA/CMA/BMA International Conference on Physician Health will be in Canada in 2012.

While some physicians have access to excellent wellness resources, most do not. How can we better address this great need? What resources would you like to see made available?

  • Peer to peer counseling and support?
  • Stress management workshops?
  • Yoga or meditation classes?
  • Retreats for professional renewal?
  • Confidential Crisis Line?

Feel free to post a comment.

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Heather Fork

1 Comment

  1. Mark Schultz on October 28, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    If you had called me, I could have come over and put out the mind fire. I bet that hurt! Just kidding. The blog looks really good. I am not even a doctor and read everything.

    Mark

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Tim O

The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

- Tim Owolabi, MD

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Lynette Charity

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Anesthesiologist
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Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

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OB/Gyn physician
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What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my passions...by doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth...

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- Devki Patel, MD

Pathologist
Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

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If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

- Jay MacGregor, MD

Colorectal Surgeon
LI

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Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician
Amie

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I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

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- Amie Langbein, DO

Family Physician
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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

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- Karen Barnard, MBBCh, MPH

Endocrinologist and Life Coach
modupe

"Heather’s approach was great! She would listen to me and helped me appreciate who I am."

I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine