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For Dr. Cynthia Jamison, it took a life-threatening disease for her to realize that her first and most important patient was herself. After being diagnosed with cancer at 32, she reorganized her life in a way to make sure that she prioritized what was important to her first.
And, if you find yourself having trouble with priorities, an trusted coach may be able to help. Reach out to www.mymdcoaches.com
MD Coaches, LLC provides leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians to overcome burnout, transition throughout your career, develop as a leader or meet your individual goals. Remember, you are not in this alone. Reach out to us today!
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Register today at rxforsuccesspodcast.com/lifestyle
PHYSICIANS BY PHYSICIANS. It showcases unique physician talents, whether it be in the form of writing, painting, creating cookie masterpieces, or storming capital hill in the name of healthcare advocacy. Use promo code RxforSuccess to get three months free when selecting the monthly option. https://rxforsuccesspodcast.com/physicianoutlook
Today’s Episode is brought to you by Doc2Doc Lending. Doc2Doc provides Match Day loans of up to $25,000 to fourth-year medical students and current residents. These loans are designed to help students cover personal expenses, such as moving costs, housing down payments, and living expenses before and during residency. With fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and no prepayment penalties, Doc2Doc Match Day loans provide financial flexibility and allow students to focus on their exciting journey towards becoming a physician.
Doc2Doc was founded for doctors, by doctors. They understand the challenges and hard work involved in becoming a doctor, and they support doctors throughout their careers. Using their in-house lending platform, Doc2Doc considers the unique financial considerations of doctors that are not typically considered by traditional financial institutions. So, Don’t let financial stress hold you back from achieving your goals – Doc2Doc lending has you covered. Visit www.doc2doclending.com/mdcoaches to Learn more.
Dr. Cynthia Reynolds Jamison was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and returned to Gainesville to complete her Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Florida. After completing medical school, she relocated to Charlotte, NC, for family medicine residency training at Carolinas Medical Center, currently known as Atrium Health. She has practiced in several settings, since completing residency in 2003 including a federally qualified community health center in South Carolina, a small physician-owned private practice in South Carolina, the Novant Medical Group in Charlotte, NC, and most recently with a private physician-owned group One Health, which is affiliated with Atrium Health.
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Access the Show Transcript Here
[0:00] The SoMeDocs Lifestyle Medicine for Everyone Virtual Conference is a unique and informative opportunity taking place June 9th through the 11th.
Get access to all lectures for a full two months after the conference, entry to the virtual conference grounds, and CME credits for the lectures.
The cost is $249 for this action-packed weekend of learning and connecting.
Register today at rx4successpodcast.com slash lifestyle.
There are times in our lives that change the way we see the world.
Navigating these challenges can take insight, trusted confidants, or even a coach.
Let’s explore those moments.
In this companion podcast to Rx for Success, we will discover ways to learn and write our own success stories together.
I’m Dr. Dale Waxman, a physician coach with MD Coaches, and this is Life-Changing Moments.
[1:09] In medical culture, it is all too common for physicians to prioritize healing others.
While not being willing to heal themselves. You know, it’s really an absurd contradiction.
We espouse behavior that we don’t even model.
This is not a personal character flaw that just happens to exist in the majority of physicians.
There are many forces in the medical milieu that create and sustain this denial of our own health.
My guest today, like the rest of us, unconsciously inherited this same stance and then encountered her own health crisis.
We’ll talk about how she changed her mindset about personal health and how that has transformed her.
Today’s guest is Dr. Cynthia Jamieson. Dr. Jamieson is a practicing family medicine physician in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she also serves as medical director for a physician assistant training program. Her path into medicine story is chronicled in Rx for Success episode number 152, which you can access on the Rx for Success podcast website.
[2:14] Or in your podcast app.
Now, similar to some other recent guests on this podcast, Dr. Jamison and I were work colleagues at one time.
She was a resident in the program in which I served on the faculty.
We have remained in touch most recently around our mutual interest in physician well-being, which we’ll be discussing today as well.
So Cynthia, welcome to the Life Changing Moments podcast.
Dale, thank you so much for having me. It is always a pleasure to talk to you.
And it’s great to have you back on the MD Coaches family of podcasts.
So we really enjoyed your recording that was just in just a few weeks ago.
So great to have you back.
Just for our listeners who may not have listened to that podcast, can you just briefly say a little bit about what your professional situation is now, and personal if you wish?
[3:03] Sure. So I’m here in Charlotte. I’ve been here since residency.
So that’s 23 years, which is crazy to say that out loud.
Seems like I just graduated medical school yesterday. My joints sometimes say otherwise.
But I- The one that makes me feel older too, by the way. Look, I wasn’t gonna go there.
[3:27] We’re like fine lines, we just age better with time. That’s exactly right, that’s right.
So anyway, your professional situation now.
So currently I work for a physician-owned group called One Health here in Charlotte that’s affiliated with Atrium.
But I’ve had several different, I guess, jobs throughout my career, different opportunities to work in different capacities.
So started off my first job out of residency was at a community health center, a FQHC right outside of Charlotte in Rock Hill, and was there for close to like eight or nine years and went to work at a small private-owned practice still in South Carolina, in Lancaster, South Carolina, where I worked with a really dear friend of mine for a couple years.
And then actually before working with One Health was with Novant Health, which is a larger organization, physician, actually organization ran by employed physicians.
Awesome, so you’ve been there for just a few months now, is that right?
[4:20] Yeah, yeah, I started in January. Awesome, so what I’d like to do kind of get right into this, you know, theme of the day, if you will.
Can you take us back to the time early in, I think it was that first practice, the FQHC practice, when you became aware of a concerning diagnosis in your aunt?
Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah, so it was probably about three years out of residency.
I was working at the FQHC and I often joke and say I got promoted to the medical director, I think I was late for a meeting, and all of a sudden, like, you won.
I’m like, wait a minute, I didn’t know I was running.
But anyway, so I was a medical director at that time, was also going through transition from paper charts to electronic medical records, and just had had a lot of, I was like the highest producing position also back in that time, was also doing hospital work.
I would round before I went to clinic when I was on call, would have calls, so would get calls in the middle of the night, have to go do newborn before I went to—so there’s a lot going on.
[5:23] So I just was super busy and I’ve always been the type of person where I never wanted to put my life on hold.
So I was also, you know, I had my personal life. I was, you know, traveling, you know, I would see family, I was doing everything.
And just kind of had a moment of pause when my aunt, who was at the time, I was 32, and she was 39, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
[5:45] And so I knew that my mom’s mom, my grandmother, had passed away from breast cancer actually before I was even born.
And so had always in the back of my mind knew that, you know what, you need to be aware of this. You need to, you know, make sure you start doing your screenings when you turn 40.
Mind you, I was 32, but when my aunt got diagnosed at 39, I was like, wow, okay, maybe you need to start thinking about this a little bit sooner.
And that’s when I just was like, okay, you need to take care of yourself.
And I, you know, I was, went to the doctor, I took care of myself, I had a dentist, I was going to my regular visits, but was not doing breast exams regularly.
And so just decided when she got diagnosed, you really need to be more consistent, even Even though I had not done them consistently, I still knew what was normal for me and when I did my exam, I felt the lump.
So that, just your aunt’s experience raised some awareness for you that maybe I ought to pay a little bit more attention and then you felt so you did and you did the self-exam.
How soon did you find yourself making an appointment after that?
I called the surgeon that I referred a lot of my patients to pretty much like within the same, like the same day, I want to say the next day I called her and back then, you know, there was a whole bunch of texting, but I called her and was like, hey, I need to come and see you.
I felt a lump and I just want you to, you know, check it out and see what you think. And she got me in pretty quickly, like within the next week. And then what happened?
So she, you know, she was doing her exam and she was just, okay, did you notice that one breast was a little bit larger than the other? And I’m just thinking to myself, no, I didn’t notice that. And.
[7:14] You know, she was like, you know what, we just need to get you in to get imaged. So, you know, at 32, it wasn’t the time that they recommended mammograms. So here I was getting my first mammogram at 32 and not wanting to freak out, but also being like, okay, well, I know that mine got diagnosed, so I need to get this taken care of. So probably within that month, I was in seeing the radiologist to get my screening done. Thinking I was just going for a screening, I went and just pushed my schedule back. So I had to push my patients back because, you know, I was, like I said, the busiest position in the office at the time.
My schedule was packed, and I knew how it would impact my schedule.
I was like, I can’t take a day off. Let me just take a few hours, get this done, and go back to work.
At the time, I was working in Rock Hill, but living in Charlotte.
[7:57] That’s like a 30, 40-minute commute. I had all this calculated and went in for my appointment.
The radiologist is doing my imaging, and he was like, I think we need to get this biopsy.
I was like, okay, all right, didn’t expect that. When should I schedule this?
I need to work on my schedule and see if I can get it in. He was like, no, we need to do this today.
And I just was like, okay, well, I mean, I have patients scheduled. I can’t really.
Changed my schedule. I have people waiting for me. What if I don’t go to work? My partner’s gonna have to take up the slack. My patient’s gonna have to reschedule.” He just looked me in my eye and was like, if you were my wife, I would want this done today. At that point, I was like, oh, okay. This could be serious. I just called the office. I didn’t tell them what was going on. I just told them I had an appointment I had to go to and didn’t really want to go into it at the time because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But I was like, you know what, my appointment got delayed. I’m not going to be able to come in today.
And so I stayed and had my biopsy. And after the biopsy, you leave with all these ice packs. And.
[8:59] I called my office on the way there and actually told them at the time what was going on. They were like, why are you trying to come in? You need to take care of yourself. And I was like, oh, that’s an interesting philosophy. And so I didn’t go in that day or the next day, because actually I ended up getting several biopsies because I had very fibrocystic or dense breast tissue. He did several biopsies on the same side. Fortunately, only one area came back positive. But it was that moment when you’re like, okay, this is happening.
[9:31] Like I said, I had an aunt who was diagnosed at 39. In my family history, I was always like, okay, this could potentially happen to me or somebody in my family. But at 32, and just starting my first job out of residency. It was just, and at the time I was single, it just was not what I had planned for myself. I’ll say that. Sure. And, and very young for, for that kind of diagnosis as well. I’m sure that there’s some, you know, we use the word denials are much more complicated than denial, but, but it’s like, how could this, it just doesn’t even make sense.
You’re so young. Yeah. And what I’d like to do, just kind of pause right there. And I realized this is a while ago, but I want to amplify or just sort of magnify, if we will, a few things that you said that all kind of give us a sense of what you’re talking about.
Thinking was, putting aside this, I’m too young for this, but this part of, you know, you said your partners or the office said, take care of yourself for a little bit. And that was kind of a bit a little bit of a foreign concept. Your knee-jerk reaction to the radiologist was, okay, I’ll schedule this at some other point. And then they said, no, no, we need to do this today. And then the other part was even earlier than that, it was a little subtle, but you said, I’m not going to take a day off to get a mammogram, but I’ll just take a couple of hours because I got patients to see and there’s also this.
[10:51] Piece of I can’t do this right now because my partners will have to cancel. Tell me a little bit about that mindset. What was that? Say more about that for you. Might be easier to examine that now. I just think about like medicine in general. Like it is a team sport in the sense that if you’re not carrying your load then the others that are working with you have to do more and I mean I think that’s been entrenched from the beginning and I I don’t know if we recruit people who believe in that or we just train it into them, I’m not sure.
And so you just, there’s this guilt that comes with it. Like, okay, I don’t wanna make people do my work or I don’t wanna let people down, let my patients down.
You know, my practice is all these things that you think about that really logically, when you look at it from the outside looking in, it’s not logical because if you’re not there, then guess what, who’s gonna carry your load then, right?
[11:45] Today’s episode is brought to you by Doc-to-Doc Lending. Doc-to-Doc provides match day loans of up to $25,000 to fourth year medical students and current residents.
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[13:04] Hi, I’m Rhonda Crowe, founder and CEO for MD Coaches. Here on Rx for Success, we interview a lot of great medical professionals on how they grew their careers, how they overcame challenges, and how they handle day-to-day work.
I really hope you’re getting a lot of great information, but if you’re looking for an answer to a specific problem, management or administration challenge, or if you’re feeling just a bit burnt out, like maybe you chose the wrong career? Well, then there’s a faster way to get the help you need. No, it’s not counseling. It’s coaching. Rx for Success is produced by MD Coaches, a team of physicians who have been where you are. I know you’re used to going it alone, but you don’t have to. Get the support you need today. Visit Visit us at mymdcoaches.com to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Again that’s mymdcoaches.com because you’re not in this alone.
[14:07] We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment, but right now I want to tell you a little bit about Physician Outlook.
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It’s available online and in print.
It’s really unique among physician lifestyle magazines. And like the Prescription for Success podcast, Physician Outlook amplifies the voice of any physician who has something to say. It also engages patients who still believe in physician-led team-based care. And Prescription for Success listeners can get three months free when you enter our promo code RX4Success and select the monthly option at checkout. That’s a really great deal on this stunning publication.
And now let’s get back to today’s interview.
[15:17] You know for you What were some of the traps of that kind of thinking like I said?
I don’t know if it was trained into you or just medicine recruits people into it who who buy into it, but just the belief that, That I have to do my work like no one else can do it or and maybe even the whole, Kind of self-serving thing was like i’m the best one to do it But I think my patients trust me.
They’re not going to trust anybody else. I know what’s best for them.
And so just looking at it from that standpoint, too, I think a lot of us believe that we’re the only ones who can take care of our patients.
[15:50] But on the other side of it, realizing I was out for almost a year after I had to go through.
[15:55] Surgery, chemo, radiation, and guess what? They got good care.
They took care of it. My partners, they took care of it.
And guess what? My patients, they wanted me to be there.
They were able to survive without me. There was this learning that happened as a result of the the treatment for you that sort of shifted that mindset it sounds like. It’s like they actually did okay during that during that year that you were that you were out. So along those lines, Cynthia, were you totally not involved in patient care for that year.
Yeah, for a year. And it was at that time, I was commuting back and forth to Rock Hill.
And just knowing that, you know, mom and sister was going to be suppressed.
And of course, people come to the doctor when they’re sick.
So it was all those things. Like I was like, you know, it’s probably better to not be there. And also just knowing myself, I think as most physicians, we’re all or none. Like, we’re there, we’re there.
And I know that if you’re tired, you know, you typically come to work.
If you’re sick, you come to work. And I really think that there’s a lot of bad things that happen with COVID. the one thing that did happen that was good was that that philosophy somewhat changed.
Like people are like, if you’re sick, don’t come to work. And it wasn’t necessarily because we want you to take care of yourself. It was like, we don’t want you to make other people sick.
But I mean, the point is that it’s still, I think that it shifted a little bit and people became, I think in healthcare, a little bit more focused on, hmm, you know what?
Maybe we should take care of ourselves. Like we tell our patients to take care of themselves.
[17:22] I agree. I think it has shifted a little bit. And that’s so interesting. You’re right.
Wasn’t so much about us, it’s about we don’t want everybody else, we don’t get everybody else sick, which is still sort of, you know, just a little bit, maybe it’s a little bit different, but it’s, but it gets us thinking a little bit.
Back to you, it sounds like early on in that year of your recovery, you recognized, I’m not going to be at my best self here and especially with the commute, with all the side effects of the treatment.
Now let’s go forward just a little bit. So how did that experience change how you are about you and your health and how that interfaces with work?
So I was off for almost a year and during that time, I actually had a chance to do things that I had not done in a very long time, you know, like read for fun.
I distinctly remember when I went to medical school, how much time it took, just how much reading, just all the outside of class time that it took to study.
And making a conscious decision that I love to read, that, okay, if I was reading for fun, then I felt almost guilty, like, okay, I should be reading because I need to learn such and such.
It wasn’t because I needed to learn to read for fun. I actually started reading books again.
[18:40] Which was, oh, maybe what else? Oh, exercise again. It’s interesting because during that time, we actually lived close to each other. I saw you a few times in the gym while I was going through through my treatment at the time, and just starting some new healthy habits that really I had gotten out of ever since I’d started commuting, because commuting itself, even though there is some benefits in terms of you have some downtime to think, and now this is before the days of audiobooks and podcasts and I was commuting, remember, on my XM radio, but really that’s a lot of time that goes from that you could be working out or cooking or sleeping.
I mean, all those things that it takes to keep yourself healthy.
I just was able to regroup and say, okay, what can I do to make sure that when I go back to work that I do have some healthy habits that I can maintain despite not having this hour and a half in my life every day that’s gone in the car.
So take us into that. So you did go back to work.
So how did you pull some of those healthy habits into your work life when you were able to go back to full-time?
It was rough, but I think the number one thing was I had to get my sleep.
Like after going through chemo, I was just tired. And so I was like, okay, if you’re tired, you have to go to sleep.
[19:52] But being honest, it was still very hard to balance because like I said, we just got a new electronic medical record.
And so it went from, oh, I have to do my charts, my paper charts while I’m at work to, oh, I can bring my work home now.
So it was like, oh, this is great, I can leave work. But then it was like, then you got to the point where work was never done. So that was a huge transition as well that I don’t think has ever reversed that now we have access to our EMRs all the time, which is good and bad.
Yeah, so it was it was difficult to continue to bring in the things that you found were healing for yourself like reading and exercise.
[20:28] But you were able to do it to some degree So what were the things that you adjusted to be able to bring that in?
So I was just intentional about okay when you leave work You really do need to leave work and on the weekends. I tried to do time I tried to not think about work at all exercise. I was able to do okay You can’t exercise every day, but at least the weekends and then one or two days during the week. So I was able to compromise.
But it still got very challenging. I think it’s just the nature of working in a community health center. It was just so much. And you’re not just a doctor, you’re also a social worker, you’re a pharmacist, you’re also filling out patient forms to get their medications through the patient assistance programs. And really, it just got to be a bit overwhelming for me. And that’s when I decided maybe it was time to do something different and look for another job. And that’s kind of what I ended up having to do to make sure that I had some balance in my life. Right. And I’m just curious, and it’s a little bit of a thought experiment, if you had not had the health challenge that you had, do you think that you would have been aware of that overwhelm at the same time or would have taken a little while? I don’t think I would have actually. I really feel like I would have just kept doing it and kept going, thinking that it was what I needed to do that. There are several things that I loved about that job. One were the people that I worked.
[21:49] With. People who work at FQHCs are the solid earth people who are there because they want to take care of patients who need help. I’m still really good friends with most of the people that I’ve worked with at the time, but also the patients. I felt like they needed me. I felt like if I didn’t do it, if I wasn’t there, what was going to happen? I probably would have stayed, honestly.
I would have stayed and not realized it until something else happened. Who knows?
[22:13] But the health challenge was definitely the thing that shifted my perspective on, kind of what was important. And I think I’ve said to you before, it was like I came to the understanding that, you know, if something happens to me, if I don’t come back, my patients will definitely miss me. But as I figured out, they went on.
But if I was to die, my family wouldn’t mourn me, like, you know, they wouldn’t have, my mom wouldn’t have me, my siblings wouldn’t have me, you know, at this point my husband wouldn’t have me, my daughter, you know.
So those are the things that I had to think about at the time was, you know, what are your priorities? Is it you, your family, or, you know, or is it the patients who will miss you but will move on?
Right. So that was more present for you in your thinking, and that’s what helped you sort of prioritize things a little bit better of a way. I really appreciate you sharing that piece about the pull of staying right where you are because of the people and the relationships and the mission.
[23:12] And the shared values and how difficult that is to pull one away from that, even though we know that it might be better for our personal health to move in a different direction for ourselves.
Yeah, definitely. I agree. And I feel like for me, it was that particular job. But I mean, if you talk to any physician, if they’re struggling at their current job, they’ll say the same thing. They’ll go, okay, well, what happens if they’re a leader? What happens to these people that I’m leading if I leave? What happens to, or if they’re a physician?
And actually, I worked with the PA program for about four years. And that was during the time my last year was when COVID was up and rampant and I had more responsibilities at my job and I was just being pulled in too many directions. So I had to resign from that program even though I felt obligated to the students and to the program. But I was like, okay, I have to have a bigger obligation to myself and my family. So Cynthia, this mindset shift as a result of the health issue, you know, now, now where you are right now, what are some of the things that might.
[24:20] Happen to you that might say, okay, in the past I might have just kind of gone ahead and pushed through, but right now this kind of activity that happens, this experience or this stimulus says, okay, it’s time to rebalance, time to prioritize my health again. What are some of those things that show up now for you that say, yeah, I got to really think about this.
I just feel like I’ve just gotten more mature and just more life experience. And also just realizing my value, like knowing that I have value and that there, I think for a lot of physicians, there’s this fear of, oh gosh, what happens if I don’t do this and I get fired? Probably not even just physicians in general. And just knowing that you have value as a person, that if this job does not value you and their values don’t fit with your values, then you can find another job. You can find another profession. You can, you know, there’s other options. So just being confident in yourself to know that you can do whatever it is that you want to do. We have the work ethic, we have the knowledge, we have the the training. It’s just a matter of knowing that and not forgetting that. So that’s like number one.
Yeah, one of the things that you said, you’re more mature, so we have some wisdom now in this part of, after you’ve been in practice for some time, and I know you’re mentoring some junior partners right now.
How do you talk to them about self-care and taking care of themselves and healing themselves?
How do you talk to them?
[25:47] How does your new environment deal with that? I just talk to them about just making sure that you are good, whether it’s taking care your mental health, your physical health, and just being present.
I did do a course on mindfulness, and that was very, I guess, mind-altering because you realize how we live unconscious.
We’ve been trained, especially as physicians, to ignore our bodies, like ignore your hunger, ignore your bladder, ignore your fatigue, and just push through it.
I’m like, well, that’s not healthy. That’s not good.
I mean, we can’t do that indefinitely. It’s not sustaining.
Even though I think that medicine attracts people who can do that and it trains them to do that, that is not sustainable.
This thing called medicine that we’re doing, it’s a marathon.
It’s not a race. I feel like we’ve been sprinting.
[26:37] We sprinted through medical school. We sprinted through residency.
Now, all of a sudden, we’re in our job and we’re still sprinting.
It’s like, no. This is a marathon. If you want to sustain your career forever, you have to do certain things now to invest in yourself.
And also just to always reset, like reset. Like, and we think that, oh, I was burned out, but now I’m better. Like, I feel like burnout is a continuum.
Like, there’s times where you’ll be burned out. You’re like, okay, I need to regroup.
And then you’re, you feel like, okay, I got it. I got my work-life harmony together. I’m good.
And then something will follow. And then you’ll be like, okay, let me get it together again. Always being mindful of where am I?
Am I good? Do I need time off? What do I need? And listening to that and actually obeying yourself.
Having an awareness, being mindful of what is it that I need, and an awareness that all of those sort of unhealthy behaviors that when we were younger we might have been able to push through is not sustainable.
Are there some concrete things that you have brought to the culture you now work in that, make it easier to pay attention to the self?
I feel like for me it’s just like rest is important. Whether it’s vacation, whether it’s sleep, all the things that allow you to regroup are important and if people around me are just, you know, they’re struggling like, well, you know, when’s the last time you took vacation?
[27:56] The last time you did something to pour into yourself.
And so I feel like even if you can’t do something big every day, like even if it’s just 10 minutes of just like taking a walk or, or, you know, listening to some of your favorite music, like doing something that pours into your spirit, because, like I said, we have to sustain this. And if we’re not good, how can we take care of our patients?
[28:17] You know, I don’t usually tell stories on this podcast, but what you’re reminding me of is something I might have shared this story with you before.
You know, what you’re talking about is having an awareness and then doing what you need to do, even in some small ways, to be able to sustain yourself.
So when I was a resident and I did a rotation in rural Hawaii with one doc, and this guy had been doing this for many, many, many years, And we had a, it was sort of a first come, first see kind of situation, there weren’t appointments.
So there was a waiting room packed with people.
It’s very, very busy and I’m just wanting to get, I’m a third year resident, I’m wanting to get these patients seen because I want to get the waiting room kind of emptied out.
And it was in the middle of the morning and the doc says, hey Dale, after your next patient, just come into my office, not an exam room, into his office.
And I thought he was gonna give me feedback about some patient thing.
And so, after my next patient I did, and meanwhile there’s people running up and down the hall, there’s a packed waiting room, which is real close to the exam room hallway.
And I walk into his room, and he’s sitting at his desk with his feet up on the desk.
[29:28] And of course, my mainland American, like what the heck, you know, we got, you know, we should have our roller skates on. And he says, he goes, Dale, have a seat.
So, have a seat.
And so I did and like as soon as I sat down, there’s a knock on the door and the assistant brought in Kona coffee and some pastries. You know, this is the middle, so I was like, wow, what the heck? And so he said, the reason I called you in here was because I found that you’re busy all day long, there’s always going to be patients. You need to take one appointment in the morning and one appointment time in the afternoon and make the appointment for yourself.
And I don’t care if there’s a lot of people waiting, you know, this is, and this is also Polynesian culture, which is different than mainland culture and Polynesian culture sort of, it is what it is. And so, but anyway, I tried many times to figure out a way to recreate that. I could never make that happen. But, but the, the, the message is the same message that you’re sharing which is how do you attend to and then even proactively do what you need to do for your health.
You know, that’s what he did and there’s things that you’re doing. You’re being very attentive to to rest is a very high priority for you.
[30:51] Um, and then creating a culture where it’s okay to to do what you need to do to get your rest, Absolutely. I mean one of the things that we’ve been trying to institute is, you know, the electronic mapper workers Like I talked about before it’s always present. It’s not going anywhere. You can work anywhere across the world, and so, um trying to to talk to each other in our office about when you’re off, you don’t have to check your in-basket.
If there’s something urgent, we’ll handle it, but you should be able to not be obligated to check your in-basket.
Even small things like that make people feel like they’re really on vacation and there’s not always expectations like I’ve gotta go, I don’t want my partners to cover my in-basket, I don’t want them to have to do my work for me. It’s like, okay, but when I’m off, I want you to do the same.
So just creating that culture, I think, has been helpful within the organization I’m with or the practice I’m with right now.
[31:37] Really nice. That’s really nice. That’s a that’s a way of moving out of I’m by myself and nobody else can do this but me. That’s great, Cynthia. Along those lines, is there anything else.
[31:50] That you would like to impart to our listeners about what you’ve learned in your journey along the way, especially with as it pertains to maintaining your health and attending to your health? I think it’s important to find your tribe and whatever that means for you, whether it’s other physicians who are seeing patients that you can talk to, because even though medicine is a group we practice as a group, we see people every day, it can be a very lonely experience.
[32:18] Like just feeling like you’re the only one who’s going through something and the more you talk to people, you feel like, okay, you realize I’m not the only one going through this.
There’s others. I think I shared with you, I did this, the Leading Physician Wellness Certificate Program, the American Board of Family, the American Academy of Family Practices offered and basically doing a certificate program with 80 other scholars that focused on just, first of all, like our personal health, also developing leadership skills and also finding different evidence-based practices that we help improve our practice.
And so all of those things to kind of, those are all very helpful, but the thing that I really appreciate with that program was bonding with my group.
Like we still have a group chat, We still kind of run things by each other.
And so just having people that you can talk to that are like-minded that help you because you’re like, okay, am I crazy or is this normal? And most times, you’re not crazy.
Well, we may be a little crazy for being doctors sometimes, but I mean, most times it’s normal.
Everybody’s experienced it. So just having a tribe of whatever it is that makes you happy.
[33:20] Feel connected to somebody. Great advice, Cynthia. Well, listen, thank you so much for coming on to this podcast and sharing your story a little bit more deeply than what you were able to get into with Randy. I really support and honor your, unfortunately, a difficult time early in that journey, but where it has brought you and the wisdom that you’re now bringing to your own practice to yourself to your practice and now to the listeners of this podcast about transforming this mindset just a bit so that we can sustain ourselves a lot longer and actually live very fruitful fulfilling and and wholesome professional lives. So thank you again Cynthia for contributing to that and to this community. Thank you I appreciate you have me and thank you for being part of my journey.
Here are my thoughts after this conversation with Dr. Jamieson.
The medical culture has cultivated and sustained a mindset in each of us that if we don’t carry our own load, others have to do more.
This happens very early in our training and it creates some adaptive behaviors like ignoring hunger or fatigue or sleepiness.
After we have completed training, we still tend to hang on to these adaptive behaviors even if they’re no longer critical to being a team player.
[34:46] As Cynthia said, we continue with the thinking, if you’re sick, you come to work.
If you’re tired, you come to work. If you’re recovering from a procedure such as she did, you come to work.
As she also said, though, ignoring these is not sustainable. something.
[35:04] Usually our health takes a toll. This mindset has also led us to believe that we’re the only ones who can do our job, the only one who understands our patients.
This reinforces the notion that we always have to be available, and again, this too is unsustainable.
Dr. Jameson did not become ill as a result of this mindset, but her illness did create a mindset shift, such as the realization that her patients actually did fine without her when seeing her partners.
And ultimately, she realized that if she left or even died, her patients could find another doctor, but her family cannot find another Cynthia Jameson.
Well, the hope of this podcast is that you make the mindset shift without having to endure a life-changing illness. Dr. Jameson invites us to be mindful about how we’re experiencing at ourselves as we traverse this life.
As she said, burnout is a continuum. So regularly check in with yourself by asking, how am I doing? Do I need time off?
Do I need to take a break? What is it that I need right now to function optimally?
[36:15] Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation that has left you with some thoughts and ideas about how to attend to your wellness proactively, which is a nice segue.
This podcast is gonna be on vacation for a few weeks because I’m going to be on vacation for a few weeks.
I’ll be traveling during this time as this is one of the activities that I engage in for my well-being.
[36:38] We have several exciting guests for you to hear from upon my return, so I do look forward to you joining me then.
Until that time, be well.
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