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  • Rosalind Kaplan, MD

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough get Creative

by Rosalind Kaplan, MD

I've had a long run as a physician-if I count my residency, it has been 35 years. I'm not ready to retire yet; I'm still finding joy in the lifelong learning that a career in medicine affords. I've had the opportunity to provide primary care and acute care to thousands of patients, many of whom I have got to know on a deeper level. I've developed a unique skill set as an internist with a special interest in women's mental health. I've been a business owner during the days of my private practice and I've been faculty at several premier medical institutions, where I had the privilege of contributing to the education of medical students and medical residents. I've been in involved in the world of medical humanities, creating curriculum, teaching the craft of writing to medical students, and writing narrative medicine books and essays.

What I've learned about myself through the various iterations of my career is that I love to combine my scientific and humanistic knowledge of medicine with my creative side. I am very versatile, moving easily between roles as clinician, educator, and creator. I am resilient, recovering from periods of sadness, stress and burnout, repeatedly returning to the 'drawing board' with renewed enthusiasm. When my professional life is not working for me, I draw on my creativity and resilience to craft one that does.

What I plan to do now, as a physician coach, is to help other physicians harness their own creativity and resilience. Just as I did when I was a full-time clinician, I am going to focus on women in my coaching practice. Women in medicine are burning out at rates considerably higher than men. I think that women often find that the current work environment in medicine inhospitable to their needs, and that they need to find creative ways to 'tweak' medical positions so that they can have a balanced and fulfilling work life.

There is no substitute for systemic change. Our healthcare system needs an overhaul to make it work better for doctors and patients alike. Until that happens, though, we must be resourceful, resilient and creative. I hope I can help struggling doctors do just that.

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