Below are the episode show notes and transcript. Some episode transcripts have been edited more than others, but they are up in the meantime to help those who would rather read and for searchability on the web. Extensive editing has not been prioritized as I seek to both produce regular content and maintain my own wellness. Enjoy!
Flourishing in medicine, to grow and be well…
Supporting health for yourself and your patients,
Connecting with others, and doing meaningful work.
Does this sound more like what you want for your journey in medicine?
Check out the rest of this episode to hear more about these prerequisites for flourishing in medicine and how to take your next step!
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For plants to grow and bloom, they need sun, water and nutrients, life and beauty built over time with certain requirements. Similarly, for those of us in medicine, there are certain needs and prerequisites to flourishing check out the rest of today’s episode to learn more.
Welcome to the MedEdWell podcast, where physicians get empowered to take the next step in their wellness, personally, professionally, and financially. I’m your host, Dr. Ryan Stegink, a practicing general pediatrician and online entrepreneur.
Thank you so much for joining me here today. On another episode of the MedEdWell podcast, we’re already to episode 22. Thank you so much for listening, for reviewing and for sharing these episodes with other physicians and those in medicine. If you’re looking to get home sooner, check out my free guide, maximizing your clinical efficiency, 10 tips to getting home faster. You can check out the link in the show notes, look forward to sharing some of the things that I’ve learned and hearing your feedback. As you put these things into practice today, we’ll be talking about flourishing. What is it?
What does it look like in medicine? What are necessary, but not sufficient prerequisites for that to happen before we get into the rest of today’s episode, let’s hear from today’s sponsor. The white coat investor has been helping physicians and other high income professionals with their finances. Since 2011, they have a series of courses at have CME available in and are just really helpful in making a financial plan and moving forward with your goals. They also have things on physician wellness. I think they’re really helpful. I’ve done the fire, your financial advisor course. And I want you to know that you can get signed up at the link in the show notes, check out a course today, especially if you have CME funds that are left to use by the end of the year. All right now, back to today’s show.
So Miriam Webster defines the word flourish as follows to grow well, to be healthy or to be very successful and to do very well. Similarly Maslow’s hierarchy of needs includes physiological needs, safety, love, and belonging esteem. And self-actualization 2018 article by Shapiro and colleagues entitled beyond burnout. A physician wellness hierarchy designed to priorit eyes interventions at the systems level adapted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to address physician burnout and wellness. It’s not just a individual thing. It’s also about addressing things at a system level. Additionally, Peggy Swarbrick put together the eight dimensions of wellness. What we’ve seen as the wellness wheel, you may have seen the adaptations of this covering financial, occupational, and six other areas, wellness that overlap significantly with a personal professional and financial areas that I seek to cover in this podcast. So taking all that together, I want to touch on those three prerequisites for flourishing, that fit into these hierarchies and domains of wellness. So the three areas, number one, supporting health and fighting exhaustion. Number two long connecting and humanizing number three, being able to contribute by doing meaningful work.
So number one, being able to support your own health as healthcare professionals and having a supportive environment and system. The first area to address is sleep. This can be really difficult at times for all of us, especially in training, rotating shifts, being on call, maybe having kids or other side responsibilities. I’m working on it myself. I’m more of a morning person, but with a wife and daughter time with them often means that I stay up a little bit later. So maybe not always able to get to sleep as early, but again, this is about intentionality having family time, getting things done around the house, other responsibilities and getting enough sleep institutionally it’s super important to support sleep, particularly in training for me as a third year medical student, my pediatrics rotation was about a 45 to 50 minute drive, real large metropolitan city. And the way home, one day I was just passing a light.
When I had a micro sleep, it was really scary. Thankfully, I stayed in lane, didn’t get in an accident, but then when I had my sub internship at the same hospital, it would’ve been kind of a reverse commute, especially when I was doing my week of nights. I decided to actually stay at the hospital in the call rooms during the day for those nights, because I was worried that I was gonna fall asleep on the road home. I just didn’t dress myself. And I was thankful for the space and the call rooms to be able to do that. Summer residency programs have even started having ride hailing services available as a perk post call. I’m not sure that my program did, but it did have available call rooms though. I had a shorter commute in residency, but after 28 hours, sometimes with minimal sleep in the middle, I would sleep for two to three hours after getting off my shift and then call housekeeping on my way out to turn over the room for the next resident.
So intentionality individually and the environment and systems in which we work and live. It makes it easier. If we have those supports from the system, whether it’s healthy eating, if it’s only junk food available in the cafeterias, it’s gonna be a lot harder to eat healthy, to exercise, whether it’s having access to work, workout area or showers and lockers at work, if you’re able to ride your bike in, it’s a variety of things. So number one, it’s important to have a supportive environment for health as a prerequisite for flourishing, but another one, number two is opportunities to belong, to connect, to feel like a human each season of training. And even after, as an attending has its own own challenges or feeling that connection and community for medical students, particularly first and second year, there can be a lot of solitary studying time, maybe some groups, but even those can sometimes feel cliquey like in high school, moving into third and fourth year more clinical rotations can be all over the city, all over the state, even particularly with I medical school classes.
And you may not even colleagues on the different rotations as you’re at different hospitals, quite sometimes. And you’re also running around for interviews particularly fourth year. By the time you get to residency, there’s long hours, different rotations, you may get to see people at noon conference, but there may be limited time outside of work to be able to connect as an attending. There’s the daily grind of being the, the doctor working through lunch, maybe a small clinic or group, or just the demands and the requirements, all those things that just kind of weigh on you. So we’ve all got challenges to connecting with others, feeling like a human, when so many of the aspects of training and attending life, encourage you to put your head down and push on forward. So what can we do in these situations to promote flourishing in ourselves and in our colleagues for medical students, it may be having a few people to it with in lecture or to study with, could be joining an organization or two about something that you’re interested in.
Notice, I didn’t say join five to 10 organizations just to pad your CV. I joined one and got to know a few other students in attendings and also volunteered at a free clinic where I was able to meet others in residency or fellowship. It may be going to dinner with colleagues. Sometimes I was in an outside choir a couple times a month, and they were gracious when I missed because of work and call. It’s also important to stay in touch with friends outside of medicine. I found this important in medical school and residency, but it’s important for all of us. It’s important to remind yourself that you can go ahead and call them in the use. Maybe some of the technology to help yourself remember. It’s like, oh, Hey, I haven’t checked in with them in a while. Maybe that would be a great, great time to do that.
And even moving into attending life. It’s important to talk to colleagues, whether at clinic conferences, whether you talk to a mentor, even if it’s just, Hey, can I, can I run something by you over lunch? It’s important to take opportunities to connect with colleagues, even if it’s just making smalls talk before your section meeting, ask, how are you really doing, doing that on a more regular basis? It’s important to remind yourself and your colleagues that you are more than your productivity targets. You are more than your patient satisfaction scores. You are more than your licensing exam step scores. Whether you pass boards on your first try or got honors on that particular rotation, supporting wellness and fighting burnout, moral injury involves systemic changes, but it also can be mitigated by these human connections and caring for one another. So first being able to support health at the individual and system levels, then finding opportunities to connect and feel like a human and three flourishing requires opportunities to contribute by doing meaningful work.
Many of us when to medicine, to help people, myself included and to make a difference, all those things that ended up on your personal statements for medical school, and yet even through medical school, residency and attending life times can be super challenging. There are lots of temptations to cynicism. Think deep down, we all want to do me meaningful work. At least I do work. That really makes a difference in our patient’s lives, the diseases they face using the skills and training that we’ve received. Sometimes paperwork and administrative tasks just have to be done. But few things first, we need to utilize all parts of our team. We need to reduce the overall administrative burden and streamline some things. And we need to make sure that we are in encouraging physicians, empowering them with autonomy and the ability to make changes, to help patients to do special projects or quality improvement.
That really matters. Some of my meaningful work includes electronic medical record optimization and the civil surgeon opportunity to serve some of my new immigrant families. It may look different for you, but it’s all about that intention. So take a moment and imagine if, imagine what it would look like. If you were flourishing in the coming year, what steps would you have taken to support your health more, sleep, more exercise, something else? What connections would you have strengthened or developed? What meaningful work would you have started or taken the next step in? So take those next steps. I want more and more physicians, med students and healthcare to be flourishing in life and in medicine. Thanks for joining me here on another episode of the meed. Well podcast again, head over to the link in the show notes to get your copy of my maximize your clinical efficiency PDF guide with 10 tips to get home faster, check out a white coat investor course, especially if you have some of those extra CME funds, please subscribe, leave a review and share with another physician or friend to say, Hey, these things are important. Wellness is important. Thank you so much for all that you do. have a great day.