A New Mantra for Modern Times
By Neel Desai, M.D.
Something came up in my mind the other day. It had to do with something one of our Medical Influencers said in one of his daily Facebook LiveCasts – Dr. Zubin Damania (ZDOGGMD) : the phrase “Yes… and…”. It is this idea that in this day and age, things are not binary or mutually exclusive – that if you do one thing, it is at the expense of another. It is synergistic. We have to try to maximize as many skills as we can to be the best versions of ourselves, both in our professional and personal lives. Easy to say, hard to do effectively, yet so worth it when done right.
Yes…diet…AND exercise. AND not smoking. AND sleep. AND minimizing stress…AND enjoying your passions… AND having a supportive community. AND having a purpose…. Yes, patients’ health matters. And doctors’ health matters too. And their team’s health matters too. Yes, medical students need technical skills to be competent physicians, AND they need business skills to understand how to be financially stable, AND they need the human relationship skills to understand how to interact with patients and teams. Well…You get the idea.
“You got to have a passion outside of clinical medicine… I don’t think that it’s realistic for physicians to have their single passion be clinical medicine, because right now clinical medicine is obscured by so many obstacles and that’s where I think the burnout happens…when you have these doctors whose single focus is clinical medicine, they’re the ones who are getting burned out because they want so badly to do well by the patient, but there are so many things against them. And I think if they don’t have a passion that parallels that, that’s where they run into trouble, and become statistics…Medicine can not be their single focus in life.”
We’ve profiled many physicians who have taken this concept to heart: physician-bloggers, physician-authors, physician-vloggers, medical student-videographers, physician-musicians, physician-podcasters, physician-entrepreneurs, physician-chefs, who have multiple intersections and overlap. And myself? I’m a primary care physician, author, reader, global rare disease advocate, blogger, charity founder, medical educator, social media health advocate, amateur guitar player, family man, and overall creative.
2 things are clear. Our digital age doesn’t ask current and future health professionals to be multifaceted, it demands it. And in personalized creative ways.
Your “yes and…” is the new medical literacy in a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, and how you recapture your autonomy and be the best version of yourself. It’s a similar concept to what they say in finance and investing with diversifying your portfolio. But instead of financial assets, we are talking about you and your individual talents, skills, life experiences, hopes, dreams, and fears. Your “yes and…” could be anything. It might be you are a great pediatrician and musician. What if you wrote a piece for your patient or played music for them and your staff? Think about the smiles and joy you would bring to all those around you. Your “yes and…” could be you are a great gymnast (like our boy Taylor!). What if you were a hard-working intern and you just showed off your unique ability to do a few backflips? What if your “Yes and” was you were a medical student with an interest in palliative care and wrote a novel or a poem about a deeply personal medical story to you?
For us at The Happy Doc, yes, we are a podcast. And a website. And on Facebook. And on Twitter. And on Instagram. And on YouTube. And a budding digital support network…And so on… Our ability to be multidimensional allows us freedom of choice and creativity. It gives us the autonomy we all have been so desperately craving in today’s demanding healthcare space.
Secondly, people love that authentic stuff. The stories that make you who you are and how you got to where you are. It’s because it’s what makes us human, relatable, and charismatic. They remember how you made them feel – happy, inspired, grateful, understood, emboldened, and hopeful. When you see your impact, it builds you up, gets you pumped, and excited. As Taylor recently said in a recent mini podcast episode, working on something you love replaces our all too familiar negative vicious cycle of thinking and behaviors, and transforms it into a positive and productive one. This leads to a life centered on joy, fulfillment, and purpose.
So my call to action is to ask yourself- what is your “Yes, and…”? It can be limitless. And when you figure it out, share it with the world, and what I always like to say – amplify it as much as possible. If any fool like me can do it, anyone can do it. Just take that first step!
Dr. Desai is an active contributor to The Happy Doc, Yes, and also a true artist because he steals most of his ideas from other people smarter than him. Follow him on Twitter @drneel1973.