3 steps to reconnect to who you are behind the white coat

A doctor’s life is a life of service to others. In today’s medical arena that service goes beyond patient care.  As early as residency training, doctors have to learn how to navigate their workflow and the energy of nurses and other team members involved in the delivery of patient care. Doctors assume administrative roles and have to effectively manage their time between meetings and patient care.  It’s easy to understand how putting attention to living your best life takes a back seat in the pursuit of a successful medical career.

In the pursuit of professional achievement, many doctors find themselves disconnected from who they really are.  The persona created when they put on their white coat takes precedence.  Their identity is intimately connected to the roles and responsibilities they have with the white coat on, leaving them exhausted and disconnected when they take the white coat off.

There is another way to be.  In fact, when doctors develop deeper relationship with themselves and stay connected to their true desires, their goals and dreams are realized with ease and flow.  They are able to shift from the disillusionment and discouragement that has become common in medicine today and reconnect to who they really are at their core.  These three steps begin the process of reconnection while integrating life with medicine.

1. Focus your attention on your desires. What are you focusing on? Medicine has a lot of moving parts that easily become distractions.  Where we put our attention is what shows up in our life.  When focused on the problems in medicine, complaining with colleagues about what is not working, and dreading the overbooked patient panel, that is what’s experienced each day.  Shift your experience by focusing on the team that supports the delivery of patient care, and you experience more flow.

2. Create daily disciplines. Success in life and in medicine becomes predictable when you take consistent actions towards your goal.  If you desire to live your best life while pursuing your medical career, consider what needs to happen in your life every day for that to unfold.  Do you need to incorporate an exercise regimen to stay healthy and does double duty to manage your stress?  Do you set aside time at the end of each day to plan for the next one so that you avoid feeling overwhelmed and establish order in your schedule and life?  Consider what has worked well for you in the past and duplicate these efforts to support you as you transition into the next level of your medical career.

3. Take an inventory of the relationship with yourself. Get to know yourself again.  For many of us, we made the bold decision to pursue a medical career in our youth.  Maturity happened during the rigors of medical school and residency training, yet little time is spent really exploring who we have become in the process.  We move from medical school, to residency, to attending physician with little consideration or consultation with the deeper parts of ourselves.  Then one day we realize where we are is not where we want to be. Instead, we made career, and by extension, life decisions to fit into a predefined model that may not have been ideal for us.  Set aside time on a regular basis to reconnect with yourself.  Ask yourself the challenging questions such as, “what really makes you happy and how do you want to serve in medicine in a way that brings you joy and connects to your sense of purpose and fulfillment?”

The journey in medicine is more than a career pursuit.  It is an opportunity for personal development.  When life and career are blended, rather than putting life on hold until reaching career success, doctors really do have the opportunity to live their best life.

Stephanie Wellington is a physician and can be reached at Nurturing MDs.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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