Physician Burnout and Wellness Resources

My take on physician burnout focuses on self-empowerment and witnessed self-inquiry to create a personal definition of physician wellness. There are many academic journal papers outlining the symptoms, prevalence, and possible explanations for physician burnout at every stage of medical training and continuing through practicing physicians mid-career. Here are a few of my favorites:

Mid-Career Burnout in Generalist and Specialist Physicians

Medical Student Burnout and Unprofessional Conduct

Mindfulness Intervention For Primary Care Physician Burnout

Depression and Suicidal Ideation Among Medical Students

Interview with Dr. Laura Roberts on Medical Student Depression and Distress

The blogosphere contains lively discussions on the subject of medical student and physician burnout. For example:

Physician burnout in residency

How physician burnout impacts patient care

Primary care physicians burnout and health care reform

New York Times article on medical student burnout and challenge to patient care

FREE recordings from my "Get the 411 Before It's a 911" coaching calls for medical students, residents, & fellows (also valuable for practicing, mid-career physicians):

Coaching Call #1 - I work with a practicing physician on the stressful thoughts of being on call.

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Coaching Call #2 - 5 Principles of Self-Care for Caring Professionals

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Coaching Call #3 - Creative Leadership for physicians

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Coaching Call #4 - Boundaries, Self-Care Principle #1 for Physicians

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Coaching Call #5 - Reactive to Creative Mode, Self-Care Principle #2 for Physicians

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FREE episodes of "Revolutionizing Medicine...One Belief At A Time" podcast - examining the commonly held stressful thoughts among physicians:

Episode 1 - "I need to take care of my patients."

Episode 2 - "I am surrounded by illness and suffering."

Episode 3 - "Patients demand my time."

Episode 4 - "People need me to respond."

Blog posts I've written:

Why I Created "Self-Care For The Caring Professional" Online Course

5 Principles of Self-Care for Caring Professionals

Doctors On The Brink Of Burnout: The Way I See It

Who Is Responsible For Physician Burnout?

Creativity: A Prescription For Doctors

Diagnosis: Human

BUY the book, Physicians In Transition, including 25 interviews with physicians who have made the transition away from clinical careers and created the life of their dreams! I am included on page 27!

Want to learn more and get "virtual coaching" on this subject?

ENROLL in my online course, "The Art of Self-Care Primer". 21-day online interactive course takes you through each of the Principles of Self-Care (outlined in Coaching Call #2 above) in greater depth, including daily exercises that you can incorporate into your life. You complete the activities at your own pace, and have access to all materials after the course is completed! More info here>>

Or Else What? Finding Your Own Answer To Holiday Overwhelm

It seems to me that there's this game we play around the holidays. We somehow feel obligated to replay the old tapes of the past, gathering together in the same ways, repeating the same "traditions", whether or not they still work for us. The result? A clenching of the jaw, a tensing of our shoulders, a knotted up feeling in our stomach, as we enter this "joyous" holiday season. Some of us might even roll our eyes without knowing it when we say the word "family". Since all the messages around us are shouting, "Peace! Joy! Love! Thankfulness! Giving!" we feel downright guilty about our deepest truth: we just don't want to do the holidays the same way anymore. That guilt gnaws at our energy for a good two months. We conduct our surface actions under the weight of the thought, "This is what I have to do." So we suck it up. We buy our plane tickets, or get in our cars, battling the crowds of people who all seem to be happily going to visit family, but very well could be gnawing away inside too. Or we buy the new sparkly red dress, the high heels, the purse, the whole deal. We show up at the party with all the people we don't even like. We do it anyway. Why? Not exactly by choice, but because we think "we have to".

Or else what?

When was the last time you questioned your own holiday patterns of action and so-called "traditions"? When was the last time you gave yourself permission to even ask the question, "What do I want to do for the holidays?" Continue reading "Or Else What? Finding Your Own Answer To Holiday Overwhelm"

Cleaning Up The Crap

Face-to-Face With The Crap

I stopped by my post office box this morning after who-knows-how-long. I was expecting to have trouble turning the key on my box, the folded up magazines and edges of post cards shredded by all the successive stuffing and weeks of piling up. I was surprised to see an empty box, except for a single slip of paper saying, "Please claim your mail at the counter." I stood in line as a young man with tight-fitting jeans, tortoise-shell glasses, a Members Only jacket, and a black Tumi laptop backpack (this was the downtown Palo Alto post office) put one envelope after another on the scale, each certified mail with return receipt, and then wanted to mail two packages overseas Priority Mail. He was taking forever. And then it was my turn, finally. I extended my hand with the slip of paper and waited. A few minutes later, the woman behind the counter emerged with a white Postal Service carton (the kind the mailmen use in their trucks) between her two hands, resting against her belly. "Here you go," she said cheerily. "Wow," I said out loud. I had to look at the physical representation of several weeks (probably a month) of not attending to my previous ritual of checking my business mailbox. Mostly this ritual was about feeling important for having a business mailbox. None of the mail I receive there seems to be addressed to me personally, and all of the bills I receive online. The energy I spend on my P.O. box is primarily spent shredding and throwing things away. It's mostly crap. I sighed as I tried to make a bundle out of the assorted items in the carton, then carried them, like an infant against my chest, over to another counter to sort through them. I picked a spot right next to the recycling bin. They were predictable things - all the junk mail and marketing solicitations of having a credit card and magazine subscriptions mailed to a P.O. Box. They were also vestiges of my previous life, which consisted of lots of time spent thinking about furniture, clothes, shoes, and travel destinations. So two Pottery Barn catalogs, two Crate and Barrel catalogs, a Restoration Hardware catalog. And of course, two Shar Music catalogs. Why always two? And then the mailings from Yoga Journal. At least four statements saying the same thing – “Your subscription expires a year from now. Will you pay us now? Thank you.” I went through as much of it as I could at the post office, then brought the rest home. I opened my home mail box also to be greeted by a fully stuffed space. Looking at it, having to look straight at it, reminded me that it was unequivocally time. It was time to clean up the crap. Not the pile of mail in front of me. But what the pile of mail represented in my life. It reminded me of the central image in Iyanla Vanzant's memoir Yesterday, I Cried, and this quote:
"Some people don't know how, and others never think about going back and cleaning up their crap. Most people want to start today and feel better tomorrow. They want to take a yoga class, listen to a meditation tape, rub a crystal on their head, and believe they have fixed their lives and healed their souls. You cannot create a new way of being in one day. You must take your time remembering, cleaning up, and gaining strength."
It hit me that I have been feeling ready to do some remembering. I had built some strength and rather than running forward, it felt like time to clean up some crap. Continue reading "Cleaning Up The Crap"

Being Your Own Hero

OK, I admit it. I was disappointed. I was disappointed when Tiger Woods, just a few short months after the "SUV incident" outside his home in Florida, staged a press conference, stood behind a podium, and recited a canned apology written in corporate-speak by the damage-control PR spin doctors at Nike. Like a dutiful boy, he was dressed in a suit, clean-shaven, looking humble and respectful to the corporate sponsors who made his public career that much more lucrative. But beneath the surface was a whole story waiting to be uncovered, spoken, and shared. I secretly (and not so secretly) cheered Tiger on when he hit the apparent depths of his personal crisis - the extent of his adultery revealed, the intensity of the pain he has kept hidden beneath the socially acceptable, corporate endorsement-worthy veneer of relentless competitiveness and focus. I saw this as an opportunity for Tiger to deliver his real "medicine" to the world, and to show us how a hero falls, journeys through the abyss of his own self-discovery, and emerges whole in a different way. With a different message about heroicism, with a more solid foundation on which to stand, with a deeper message than can be conveyed merely by counting wins and trophies. Continue reading "Being Your Own Hero"

Healing Sounds Workshop

Making sound with breath and voice is the ultimate union of mind, body, and spirit. In this 3-week series, we will discuss the use of sound in meditation, self-care, and creativity, and practice the healing sounds of the five warrior seed syllables from the Tibetan Bon tradition. I am excited to explore my deepening understanding of the power of sound healing with you. You will:
  • gain a basic understanding of the use of sound in meditation,
  • experience how making sound can clear and quiet the mind,
  • explore the application of healing sounds in creating balance and harmony in your daily life.
Upon completing the series, you will have the foundational tools to begin your own home practice using healing sounds.

Class format:

The first 30 minutes of each class will be spent discussing the seed syllable and the philosophy as described by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. We will then move into a 15-20 minute sounding practice, and conclude with a 15 minute guided reflection/journaling time where you can consider the application of this practice in your daily life. There will be emphasis on the practice of sound healing in removing blocks and barriers in the mind, deepening your access to the positive qualities already within you, and uncovering your innate creativity and wisdom.

Background:

This series is based on the teachings of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, author of "Tibetan Sound Healing" (available on Amazon, includes CD). It is highly recommended, but not required, that you read Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's book before and/or during this series. The workshop will be led by Dr. Lisa Chu. Read more about Dr. Lisa Chu here.

Details:

When: Tuesdays at 7:00pm -8:15pm November 2, 9, & 16, 2010 Where: The Cradle of Manifestation, 2483 Old Middlefield Way, Suite 150, Mountain View, CA 94043 Fees: $75 for 3-class series, $30 for single class For more information: (650) 325-2194 or contact me by email Register for Healing Sounds: Study & Practice of Tibetan Sound Healing for Self-Care and Creativity in Mountain View, CA  on Eventbrite

If You’re Not First, You’re Last….is it true? What Ricky Bobby Taught Me

Are you on a fast track to nowhere? I recently watched the movie Talledega Nights again. It's a masterpiece in so many ways, but now, as a life coach, I see a different layer of wisdom in the story of Ricky Bobby. We live in a culture that teaches us about winning. We worship winners. We are scared to death of losing. We avoid it like the plague. I'm not sure when the American Dream became inflated to this point, or if it was always like this and I'm just noticing it now. But the fancy ZIP codes, the latest fashions, the plastic surgery, the fitness programs, the high-paying jobs, the flashy cars...all of these toys and amusements, which have become SO glamorous and fun as the demand for them has gone up, are substitutes for the relationships we are seeking with ourselves. As I look around at our human condition, I see that we share a common need to belong. We share a common need to feel loved. We share a common need to love someone or something, and be able to express it. And we share a common need to tell the truth in our hearts. The problem is, we're not taught to acknowledge what we truly need. We buy into the concept that if we just keep racing to win, we'll have everything we ever thought we needed. Well, have you ever gotten to the very top of your game, accomplished the goals that have been put in front of you, and still ended up feeling empty? If you know what I'm talking about, then read on. Continue reading "If You’re Not First, You’re Last….is it true? What Ricky Bobby Taught Me"

Practicing Balance – Part 2 of 2

This post grew out of my reflections on being confused...read Part 1 if you haven't already. With all the talk of clarity, power, intention, success, and purpose, it can be a little intimidating to acknowledge when you have a moment of confusion. But there is a time for confusion. And until we can acknowledge and admit this to ourselves, we cannot move through it. We gloss over the surface of it, trying to fix the outer appearance of our lives, staying busy and enrolled in things, buying more, doing more, hoping that all that activity will make the confusion go away. It's true that action and forward motion is such a powerful antidote to feeling stuck and ruminating for too long. But I've also found that acknowledging the truth, and being able to rest in the feeling of truth, is an essential starting point.

From "Woo Woo" to "Win Win"....where's the balance? Continue reading "Practicing Balance – Part 2 of 2"

At Peace with Confusion – Part 1 of 2

I don't know about you, but I'm finding that I'm easily hooked by the idea that I need expert advice in order to do something "right", and that I need a formula to follow in order to be successful. With all of my inner work over the past year and a half, you'd think I'd be over it. You'd think I'd have found Nirvana, bliss, equanimity, access to Buddha nature. Yeah, I thought so too. What I'm really finding is that life keeps challenging me to keep a sense of humor as I learn to trust myself. I veer off the path (or am I merely on a twisty part of it?) and find myself enrolled in another program, following dutifully along like the great student I've always been. But then I look at the pile of assignments I've given myself, and I wonder, "What test am I studying for? Whose grade am I trying to earn here?" Continue reading "At Peace with Confusion – Part 1 of 2"

Find Your Oneness, Find Your Passion: What I Learned From My First Monday Night Football Game

I went to my first Monday Night NFL Football game this week. It was a very exciting opportunity to experience such a central piece of American pop culture, especially since I grew up in the Midwest in a football-watching family. My mom actually started getting interested in football as a result of wanting to feel included in her male coworkers' lunchtime conversations at the suburban Catholic hospital where she worked. For her studious dedication as a fan, she was rewarded with a Chicago Bears Super Bowl win in 1985 (Chicago 46, New England Patriots 10). Continue reading "Find Your Oneness, Find Your Passion: What I Learned From My First Monday Night Football Game"

Watch my interview on KMVT-15 King’s Connections – Remarkable Young Women Series with Rusty King

I had the pleasure and honor of being Rusty King's guest #3 on the Remarkable Young Women Series of King's Connections, on channel KMVT-15 in Mountain View. I met Rusty at a Mountain View Chamber of Commerce event, and we immediately connected on the subject of being musicians. Rusty is an award-winning songwriter and drummer, in addition to hosting his own show on KMVT-15. Thanks to Rusty's thorough research, in this half-hour interview we talk about my entire life, from my childhood in Libertyville, Illinois, through the launch of Chinese Melodrama just a few months ago. Watching it is like taking the "heroine's journey" all over again. It reminds me how this past year of my life, 2010, has been such a rapid whirlwind in some respects, while at the same time being some of the most spacious time I've ever experienced. Rusty and I discuss education, success, parental expectations, music, creativity, failure, and the necessity of following your own heart. Enjoy!