• Rosalind Kaplan, MD

Back Again, and Better

Rosalind Kaplan, MD

So I realized this week that it has been almost two months since I wrote a blog post. It was my intention to write a post at least every 2 weeks, and keep things moving along, but two things happened:

  1. The blog hasn't had a focus, and that has made it hard to write posts- I feel like the subjects are random blurts.

  2. I got really busy with the many projects I have my hand in right now, and there aren't enough hours in the day.

These two situations are intimately connected. I've been busy doing a lot of things I enjoy, and these activities seem to be in vastly different realms. Sometimes I feel like I have two different lives- one as a doctor, providing patient care and teaching clinical skills, and the other as a writer, creating my own written work, participating in a workshop, and teaching creative writing. There are different people in each life. My writing friends and colleagues one set. My physician colleagues and friends and the other healthcare professionals I work with are the other. I even have different clothing for medicine and for writing-- scrubs or 'business casual' when I'm my doctor-self and comfortable, more bohemian attire-jeans, flown tops, dangly earrings- when I'm my writer-self.

My family and longtime friends span both lives. So do my students, who are both medical students and writing students, as I'm teaching 'medical humanities' right now. Even so, I often feel like I'm turning different parts of my brain on and off, depending on what my activities are at any given time. I no longer want to write about medicine all the time, and have branched out into writing other memoir and even fiction, so the disconnect, if anything, just kept getting wider.

That is, until I began a new activity this fall. I'm in a 6-month program to become certified as a physician coach. That means a sort of life-coach for other physicians, to help them clarify their strengths and weaknesses, their values and their goals, and to use that clarity to build a life that works for them. Doctors, as most of us know, are in an epidemic of stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction. To many doctors, the American healthcare system seems to be crumbling and collapsing, with more patients than ever falling through the cracks of the insurance system, worsening doctor shortages, and continuing administrative edicts and burdens that take much of the joy out of the art and science of medicine. How can we protect ourselves from the physical and mental tolls of this, and stay in the game? Many of us are truly committed to being healers, and can't imagine another path, but the path we're on isn't getting us where we want to go.

What I discovered in my coaching program is that there is a place in medicine for the kind of creativity and flexibility that I have in my writing life, and I can harness it to help other doctors thrive. My writing skills fit right in, and many of the other learners in my cohort are also creative, verbal doctors. I feel right at home with these people, using both sides of my brain and bringing all my skills into this effort. I also discovered that I would have really benefited from coaching when I was doing medicine full-time!

So I'm going to pivot in this blog and begin writing about physician coaching, as I develop my own clientele, phase out some of my clinical work, and begin this new, flexible and creative part of my career.

I'm still too busy, and I'm not sure about the frequency of posts yet, but look out for more if you're interested!

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