People often ask me whether I’ve retired from medicine. I tell them “not exactly”. I “retired” from practicing Emergency Medicine after 30 years in 2015, but I’m still sharing whatever I can to inspire others to optimize their own health. Others seem okay with that response. I don’t know why it should matter– it’s not like I need their approval, but it does matter to me. It always has mattered, probably too much, what people think. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I know that. I’ve known it most of my life. My mother warned me about that personality defect, but that it could also be a blessing for me. Many if not most successful pre-medical applicants who become traditional doctors are obsessive-compulsive and perfectionistic. How else would they ever have made it through the application process? Physicians are selected out from the masses for their attention to detail. Our obsessive nature facilitated our efforts to get everything exactly right and is what reassures our patients that they can put their lives into our hands. We can be trusted to give our very best–often to the point of our own decline and harm. That is who we are. I know that about myself. Perhaps these comments will ring true to those of you who are also in medicine.
You may be asking why I am drawn to mentor others with these same traits? It’s quite simple really. Most of us after a painful experience, turn around what we have learned from it to help another not have such a painful experience. In this way what we went through doesn’t seem so bad after all, and that maybe it was worth it so that we could ease another’s burdens. That’s why. I feel a great sense of usefulness and purpose by helping colleagues avoid some of the pitfalls I went through. The goal is to keep ourselves healthy so that we can be there for our families and our patients. We do no one any good if we are sucked up into the vacuum of modern assembly line medicine. No one benefits. And what is sad, those in control either don’t understand the implications, do not feel empowered to make a difference or have more pressing concerns. Healing others is a dignified and noble career; but we, as physicians and healers, are misunderstood by others and often even by ourselves. We forget the noble and honorable reasons we listed on our medical school applications for pursuing a medical career, and we become survivalists. Once we get into the medical education system, residency and then on to an academic position, we’ve changed. Or, at least outwardly we’ve changed, but inwardly we are still thinking we are doing the right thing for the right reasons, and it takes much of our career to recognize and begin to understand the disconnect.
One of my major goals and driving purpose right now is to help put the honor back into medicine–to teach pre-medical and medical students, residents and physicians that there is another way to be healers. We can become “happy doctors” as Dr. Pamela Wible has been advocating for almost 15 years now. Dr. Wible is making a difference with her Ideal Medical Clinic movement a student at a time, a resident at a time and a physician at a time. She has become one of my heroines, a modern Joan of Arc . A little over a year ago, my wife, Barbara, and I attended one of Dr. Wible’s retreats at the Breitenbush Conference Center in Detroit, Oregon. It was inspiring. I went to decide whether to get completely out of medicine. After a wonderful, but tumultuous career, I didn’t like the visceral autonomic response that followed my anticipating seeing patients. It has been only recently that I have acknowledged I have been suffering from post traumatic stress after all those years of front-line Emergency Medicine. Still, I am not a quitter. I made a commitment at that retreat that I would open up my own “ideal clinic” and see the magic happen. It has taken me over a year to do so, but on June 1st, 2018, I opened my clinic doors in Spring City, Utah.
What propels me forward, and most excites me is having retreats similar to our Breitenbush experience where I could guide students, residents, physicians and other health care providers in their healing journey. Perhaps you are in this group and could yet salvage your career in a happy and peaceful way. I hope also to inspire pre-medical students who are struggling to get into medical school realize their potential. I am looking forward to guiding as many as I can through this lonely process of identifying a suitable career. Successful medical school applicants typically have a coach. As a previous medical school admissions committee member for several years at two allopathic medical schools, I can help those of you in this position become competitive in your application to medical school and I would be honored to assist you in the application process. For those accepted into medical school, you need to know that when your previously very effective methods for achievement may no longer be working for you, it is not you. I will help you to understand how you can make it through the system of medical education without losing respect for the beautiful person you are; and, how you can still make a positive impact upon others without sacrificing your soul. As a residency program director for many years, I can help you who are currently in residency find your balance among your personal life, a demanding career and perhaps a young family. I want you to create habits now that will help you find increased joy throughout your career and life. Likewise, you, my physician and other colleagues currently working in a medical environment, I want to help you find your balance and to understand what is really at stake here. How can an unhappy doctor or other provider inspire patients to heal? I will teach you first how to heal yourselves, that you may be able to inspire others to heal. Isn’t that what healers do?
How will this be done? Through healing retreats in the mountains of Central Utah. Small group retreats are planned periodically throughout the year. If you would like to arrange individual mentoring, contact me through the contact page of this website.