Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MMA Moves Forward with Physician Well Being Effort

Patricia Lindholm, MD,
2010-2011 MMA President
I wish to share with you the progress to date with the physician well-being initiatives at MMA.  At the January Board of Trustees meeting, the board approved the proposal of the Physician Well-Being Task Force.  Soon we will be discussing how to implement the recommendations of the group. 

A member survey conducted by the task force indicated strong interest in having regular articles in Minnesota Medicine on topics related to physician well-being.  I hope that by now you have read the January issue that was dedicated to the topic.  I am so proud of the contributors to the journal, many of whom were on the task force.  If you have not seen it, take a look or go to the Minnesota Medicine web site.  I truly believe this issue will be a valuable reference for us in years to come.  For those of you who are interested in member recruitment, this journal would be a good promotional piece for MMA.

It is my hope that we will offer or sponsor retreats for those of us who need to have “time out” to reflect, rejuvenate and learn new techniques to reduce stress in our lives.  It is also my hope that these and other offerings will promote the formation of “community” among us.  It occurs to me that one of the things most lacking in physicians’ lives is a sense of community with our colleagues.  I am thankful to my local colleagues who have come together for community in our small support groups.  There is a great deal of healing and soul-feeding that occurs when we can be truthful, trusting and vulnerable to each other in community.  If you would like to see a similar group in your medical community I would be happy to share our experience with you. 

I continue to be impressed with the Canadian Medical Association’s efforts in the area of physician health.  I would like you to know that the second Canadian Conference on Physician Health will be held in Toronto October 28 and 29.  I am planning to attend!  You can get information about the conference at www.cma.ca/physicianhealth. 

I am currently reviewing a good resource on physician wellness and plan to share it with you soon as a “book review”.  Stay tuned.

Be well!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Moments of Grace

Patricia Lindholm, MD,
2010-2011 MMA President
In January, I was a guest at the Zumbro Valley Medical Society’s annual meeting.  Because I live five hours away from Rochester I checked into a local hotel to spend the night after the meeting.  Subsequently I had two consecutive days off for travel. 
The meeting was an elegant affair with award presentations, a fine meal and an excellent talk given by Sanne Magnan, M.D., the former Minnesota Commissioner of Health.  My hosts were extremely gracious.  The awardees were all inspiring individuals which caused me to ask myself, “So what have I done with my life?” 
Don’t get me wrong.  I know as a physician my work helps people every day and is meaningful.  I am also in a leadership position in my state medical association.  These are facts.  However, internally there is often discord between fact and conviction. My own faulty wiring at work, I suppose.
During a period of socializing at the meeting I was approached by Harriett Hodgson, former president of the MMA Alliance.  She is an accomplished journalist and author.  She came to present me with her most recent book, “The Spiritual Woman.”  What a gift!  She has a beautiful introduction about the many varieties of meditation and their value and usefulness.  The book also includes a collection of inspiring quotations that can be used as the basis for a daily meditation.  I knew that this gift was a moment of grace.  Perhaps my encouragement of an open discussion of physician wellbeing has significance after all.  Indeed this gift was nourishment for the soul.
The experience also reminded me that in medical practice we are presented with moments of grace more often than we recognize: the gratitude of a patient who takes the time to write a card; the sincere “thank you” from a person who felt heard and cared for; the affection that develops when we care for patients over many years, and the hugs from children or from the elderly.  These are priceless. 
On days when we are discouraged and wonder whether we ought to have chosen a less stressful career, we are likely to have had a moment of grace somewhere, if we only had eyes to see it and the sense to appreciate it.