Recently, I was recognized with the Community Surgeon Achievement Award by my peers at the Orthopedic Trauma Association (OTA) and the American Fracture Association (AFA). The winner each year is recognized for their outstanding community contributions and dedication to excellence in research and education. I feel incredibly honored.
If I’m honest though, I haven’t always felt the love. Promoting wellness and coaching for surgeons was NOT COOL when I started. I’m not sure it is now, but these days I get fewer sideways glances. Even when the concept wasn’t cool, I stuck with it. I had a passion for performance improvement to help my colleagues and myself. The reason I was doing it was strong enough to endure the many challenges along the way.
A few years after I started advocating for surgeon wellness, burnout became a hot topic. Now, we seem to be burned out on burnout. Some want to call it moral injury. I feel there is an advantage to striving for the positive – which is wellness. Wellness, or the absence of wellness, is a complex problem on an individual, local, and national level. Surgeons are realizing that to continue their driven and successful ways, optimal and sustainable performance requires a broad set of skills (The 8 PRACTICEs). What I have learned is when it comes to conversations about burnout, moral injury, and wellness, what we call it doesn’t matter nearly as much as who the messenger is. Ultimately, what matters most is what each one of us is experiencing. For this very important reason, I believe the common opportunity to impact our wellness is COACHING – formal coaching partnerships or simply navigating life with a coaching mindset.
I encourage you to think about what you are passionate about and stick with it. Perhaps you might even work with a professional coach to accelerate your progress. Chances are, if it matters to you, it will matter to someone else – even if they don’t recognize you for it right away.