I looked at my life through the lens of an outsider: It looked pretty good. Funding. Presentations. Publications. Great job, and a great family. Check, check, check. I looked at my life through my own lens, an insider: a mess. Exhaustion. Absent from my closest relationships. Chronically feeling like I was dropping the ball, because I was. Unhealthy. Not enough sleep, or exercise, or joy. Apathy. This was me, four years ago, ...

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Recently I was saying goodnight to my oldest son, who is now 14 and about to enter high school. I was standing in his bedroom looking at his midnight blue walls, which are covered in each of the planets. He looked up at me from his Pottery Barn bunk bed and said, “Mom, I need a new bed … and new walls.” I stared at him, realizing my son was no ...

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“Yes, you are like that,” said my husband one night as I was lamenting criticism I had heard about myself that day. “I am?” I asked, shocked, a little hurt, and angry. “You are, “ he replied. “Everyone who knows you knows this.” Gulp. No one likes to hear criticism. Our lives are so busy, so over-extended, that stopping to hear that something we said or did upset or annoyed someone is ...

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I was recently interviewed by someone on the topic of clinician burnout. The interviewee asked me how I respond to those who say that burnout does not exist, is being overstated, or is the result of a weaker generation of practicing physicians. I find this difference in opinion interesting. Most of the time, when a physician complains to me about the focus on clinical burnout, they are 1) of an older ...

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I lost a friend this month. She was a surgeon; she was one of us. We lost her. So did her patients. All the ones she helped. The ones she saved. So did her hospital, her nurses, her techs. So did her family. All the love, coming to a screeching halt. Another friend lost. Another brilliant healer in medicine -- gone. Another one I will now refer to as “she was …” when I talk ...

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How do I balance my home life with physician life? I really want to do a research study. How do I start? How do I get involved in my specialties society? I am overwhelmed with clinical duties. How do I negotiate for nonclinical time? My manuscript was rejected. What should I do next? I had a bad clinical outcome, and I can’t seem to recover. How do I move forward? Joining this committee will be a ...

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Those who follow my blog know I write about science and medicine and their complexities and challenges. Sometimes, I write about anesthesiology and what it’s like to be in the operating room. I write about gender issues and things I’ve noticed as a woman leader in medicine. I write about my children, being a mother, and all that it takes to have the best job in the world and feel ...

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Recently someone asked me how I started my blog, Brave Enough. The person, a physician, wondered how I made the jump from safe, traditional academia into the world of social media and blogging about women empowerment. “Did you have one moment? Did something happen? What was it?” The conversation made me reflect, as I have been, for several weeks. Like most things, my introspection ended up as words in my journal. Then, words in a ...

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I often speak on stages at conferences. I am often the only woman and sit on what some have called “manels.” I love to teach large groups, and I enjoy medical and leadership conferences. I used to take pride being “the only woman” on stage. Not anymore. For years I would be on panels, and I would be the only woman. Many times I was given the “case presentation.” The more serious panel ...

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This month my institution lost a vibrant, talented member of our team to suicide. Most likely, if you are in health care, you probably are thinking of a coworker you know who also took his or her own life. Sadly, it is not uncommon. I can’t stop thinking of his wife. His parents. All of the patients who will miss his excellent care and expertise. Suicide is prevalent in health care workers, and physician ...

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