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Wellness Section Newsletter - October 2014

Part II: Yes, There is Such a Place: Healing Work Environment Allowing the Healthcare Team to Be True Caring Healers

LevinMay2013In our Spring newsletter, I wrote (Part I) about my personal journey through the medical system as I was being evaluated and treated for idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. It dealt with what can happen to patient care when there is a disconnect between the provider and the patient. This disconnect (real or patient perceived, it does not matter) can lead to overlooking potential worsening of a treatable co-morbid condition. In the case, I described how this disconnect interfered with the normal communication between myself and my provider, ultimately blocking critical thinking. The provider was not sensing/seeing/hearing my concern with the one question that I was repeating - tell me why my condition (peripheral neuropathy with increasing radicular symptoms) was not related to a treatable worsening of a co-morbid condition (spinal stenosis). Please see the 2014 Spring Wellness Section Newsletter for Part I

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What is a Hero?

I would like to now turn to the concept of “Hero” and what it means to medicine. Do we risk patient injury and medical errors because we look at ourselves as the “only one who has the ability to treat patients correctly” as Brian D. Wong, MD portrays in his book “Heroes Need Not Apply” or do we look at ourselves as heroes when we connect to our compassion and empathy as Frank Gabrin, MD so compassionately relates to in his journey from burnout and back in “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care,” Clear2Care Inc, 2013.

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From the Editor and Author Interview with Dr. Frank Gabrin, DO

Review of: Gabrin F. Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care, Clear2Care Inc, 2013.

Like stress, can there be good and bad heroes. I have previously reviewed Dr. Brian D. Wong's book on Heroes Need Not Apply, where the emphasis was on creating healing work environments and patient-centered heath care teams in order to change medical culture, improving communication competencies, decreasing medical errors while moving away from the “I can do everything” philosophy. (Please see accompanying essay by Dr. Wong regarding his distinction between a good and bad hero in medicine). In the following book review of Dr. Frank Gabrin’s, Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care, we find another definition of the word “Hero.”

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What is a Hero in Medicine?

Some years back, I and a few other psychiatrists were given a one-time award by the American Psychiatric Association for being “Heroes of Public Psychiatry.” “Who, me!?” After I got through the shock and surprise, I accepted the award, though something was uncomfortable about it. I had never thought about being a hero. Heroes to me were those who dramatically put their life at risk to save people in danger. Me? I suppose that could have happened to me, say disarming a patient about to shoot someone else or him/herself, but I never had to do that. I had just been doing the best I could year by year as part of a system trying to help the poor and underserved with mental health problems.

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Reflections on being “Inside the Emergency” from my book, CARE 101

I was working in an inner-city hospital while an unfortunate young man was walking down the street outside the hospital when he was hit in the neck by a stray bullet. I remember walking alongside his gurney as they rolled him into the big bay at the front of the department. He looked terrified, wondering if he was going to live. I immediately got his attention, telling him that I was his doctor and that I was going to take great care of him, that he was not going to die but things were about to happen very quickly and I needed his full, undivided attention and complete cooperation.

A look of relief washed across his face as he nodded that he understood. I asked him his name and demographic information as the staff got him registered and into the computer system. There was no chart or computer for me to deal with in this moment of crisis. Although there were many team members with me in the room, starting IVs, drawing blood, hooking him up to the monitor, shoving XR plates behind his back, cutting his clothes from his body, placing bandages over the bullet hole in the front left side of his neck and looking for the exit wound that could not be found, it seemed as if it was only the two of us, my patient and me. Our attention was firmly focused on each other. We were most definitely connected.

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Please make plans to attend the ACEP Wellness Section meeting at ACEP14 (Scientific Assembly) in Chicago, IL.

Wellness Section
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
McCormick Place Convention Center, W 186 B, Level 1

Read more for the Well-being Committee, Quiet Room, Parents with Infants Lounge and ACEP Wellness Center schedules.  


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Board Liaison Report


KaplanThe following is an update from your ACEP Board Liaison:

This section newsletter is about heroes. And you are my heroes. There are many professions where you would not have worked as hard or cared as much . . . and you chose to be an emergency physician. I am honored to be your colleague. As we continue on our individual journeys, we want to continue to grow and prosper. Part of my responsibility as your Board Liaison is to work with other College leaders to ensure that you have the opportunities to do so. I want to report to you what we have been involved in on your behalf . . .

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The Soul of Heroism

Dr. Frank Gabrin extols the virtues of everyday heroes in his book, “Back from Burnout” while I decry them in my book, “Heroes Need Not Apply.” Yet upon closer examination, our respective points of view are remarkably much more similar than different.

The essence of the difference lies in the portrayal of heroism as an act of “doing” or as an act of “being.” Both of us agree that it is in the “being” part that true heroism resides.

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Happiest Doctors build this Venn Diagram

In this post I will show you a shortcut to more happiness in your busy life as a physician ... by teaching you how to overcome your doctor programming and build your own personal Venn Diagram of Physician Happiness.

The happiest doctors I know understand there is a Venn Diagram for career satisfaction. By conscious planning or sheer luck, they have maximized the overlap of the two circles of the Venn. Right now you probably only see one of the circles. Let me show you the second circle that will serve as a springboard to more happiness in your career.

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