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Physician, Heal Thyself

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Health system in crisis

The cohort of colleagues that I met through the U of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AZCIM) fellowship in 2016 came in mostly weary and defeated. At that first circle, we shared stories from the frontlines of a sick and broken healthcare system, where cynicism and burnout were the norm, and where people felt like they could no longer find it in themselves to feel hope. The stories were depressingly similar across specialties and countries.

We typically define burnout as being long-term, unresolvable job stress leading to exhaustion and overwhelm. Endless administrative tasks including hours in front of the computer have led to a sense of disconnection with the patient. Burnout has been described extensively both in the medical and lay literature, describing doctors’ detachment from work and an alarming number of suicides.[1]

Hope rekindled

I had gone into the fellowship looking to learn the skills that would enable me to take care of patients more holistically, but I never expected to see myself begin to transform through the experiential learning exercises we did.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

As we learned more about the evidence behind integrative health practices, we naturally began to adopt healthier habits. I saw dramatic shifts not only in myself, but also in my classmates – some became noticeably lighter and leaner in their bodies, others shared major changes in relationships and careers.

Self-coaching skills put you in touch with your deepest wisdom, and propel you forward

The process of caring for ourselves had somehow led us to discover hope and light in our hearts. In experiencing and embodying that transformation, we were seeing that we could have an impact on our communities around us. We could become better healers.

Healing Ourselves

So many healthcare workers are feeling the impact of COVID-related stressors on systems that were already under tremendous pressure. It’s perhaps not so surprising that so many doctors have sought out coaching and coach training to help themselves to weather this tumultuous time, to take stock of what matters most and to emerge better prepared.

Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

Learning mindset dexterity and emotional regulation has been transformative for so many. During these uncertain times, we can only really be certain that we will need to change and adapt to our rapidly changing world with ever more agility and resilience. Self-coaching skills put you in touch with your deepest wisdom, and propel you forward.

Coaching is pulling together many threads of my distinct identities to form a beautiful tapestry that is constantly weaving in new threads. Clinician, academic physician, health executive, mentor, artist, and family caregiver come together and align towards the same mission. At its core is the opportunity to heal others by healing myself first.



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