THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION : A SHAME RESILIENCE WORKSHOP FOR DOCTORS
Disconnect and Reconnect
After a few years of practising as a staff emergency doctor at a busy academic hospital in downtown Toronto, I couldn’t explain away the lack of joy and meaning I found in my work. I was making a lot of money, getting promoted, and winning awards. My resume was perfect, but I was angry and bitter. It wasn’t until a patient told me that I was a mean doctor that I started to pay attention.
I took a summer off to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I read a lot of books. I hired a career coach. I discovered photography. I started writing again. I became a mother. With the stress test of a newborn, I was forced to address my sleep deficit. I learned to simplify my priorities. And I learned to say no.
It’s been more than 8 years since I started my burnout recovery and I’ve learned a lot of tools to pay attention. I call these my list of “NNT = 1”—life lessons so powerful that they will change each person (if adopted).
This workshop is the expression of one of my NNT = 1. Dr. Brené Brown’s books on shame and vulnerability gave language to the emptiness I was feeling inside while introducing practical tools to address them. Even now, during a pandemic, her lessons taught me that I can drop the need to be a superhero mom and doctor. I can admit that I am scared, tired, and often angry. And that is okay.
Eight years ago, I thought of leaving medicine. But I'm still in medicine and I'm thriving. And now I want to introduce how understanding shame triggers and leaning into vulnerability can help other doctors find their way back.