Reflect back to when you were just starting school or training for entering the medical field. What drove you to become a clinician? Who or what inspired you to take up this profession?
Now reflect on the present. There are probably times during your day when it can feel pretty far from that vision that you had when you chose to go into this profession. The frustrations of practice, the sacrifices, and the difficulties of taking care of patients can disconnect us from why we went into medicine in the first place.
We need to connect to our mission more than ever when times are hard, to find the beauty in those moments when we DO get to use our talents to help others. It can be helpful to think in terms of two basic concepts: recognize and remember:
- Recognize that we NEED to work at finding moments to connect to. We are designed to remember the bad things. Our disposition to the negative is designed to help and protect us, but it can sometimes overshadow and dilute even the best of experiences. While we are far from the neolithic era in which we needed this trait, it still affects our lives daily. If we don’t remember to reflect on the good, stress, fear, and cynicism may take root and dominate how we see people, our circumstances, and life in general. This bias toward remembering the negative means we need to really work at finding the good in the work that we do. We need to intentionally reflect and readjust our thinking to recognize the impact we have and the difference that we make.
- Remember your reason for being here. We know it’s easy to forget the reason we became clinicians when the demands are just so immense and overwhelming. I invite you to think back to your deepest reason for becoming a caregiver and remind yourself often about what that reason truly was. You may even want to write a simple phrase on a sticky note and put it on your desk or in your car, so you glance at it daily. It can help to connect you, ground you, and sustain you as you begin your work, walk into exam rooms, and put your head down at night, to do it all over again the next day.
Seeking, creating, and appreciating good moments, ones where you are making a difference in a patient’s life, doesn’t necessarily come spontaneously to us. We must make deliberate efforts to create and recognize these moments. Tell us how you manage to recognize and remember the good moments in the comments below or on Linkedin or Twitter.
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Stefanie Simmons, MD, FACEP is the VP of patient and clinician engagement at Envision Physician Services. She served as University of Michigan/St. Joseph Mercy core faculty and coordinated collaborative care between APPs and physicians. Currently Dr. Simmons contributes to emergency medicine, high performing teams, and clinician self-care curriculum.