Starting out with a freshly starched, stiff armed and itchy sleeved long white coat with my name embroidered on the left pocket was an amazing experience. A new pen in my upper jacket pocket and the side pockets stuffed full with various lab books, house call books and reference cards these were also known as the “peripheral brain”. The full pockets signaled to me that I was ready for anything, to others they probably signaled that I had more to learn. I did not care, I was eager, wide eyed and raring to begin my internship. Heck, I had just graduated from MSUCOM, I was an Osteopathic physician and the world was my oyster.
It was always thought that I would be an Orthopedic surgeon. I loved bones, joints, muscles etc. And I love the precision of surgery and the clean hands and arms up to my elbows. The smell of soap, the crispness of the drapes and control of the environment. However, my recent travels and study abroad in Switzerland and England had an inspiring influence upon me. Two things were made clear: One, surgery is hard work, and two, I enjoyed the patients awake for their treatment. These realizations came while assisting in surgery in Zurich. Since I did not speak Swiss German, I focused on the surgery, no real banter amongst our team. Whew, I realized that was taxing work. Then, I realized while studying in London that I loved complex cases and keeping the patient awake for feedback as I worked to solve their problems. It was helpful that we spoke English (even though they had a posh accent).
So during internship, my focused changed from Orthopedics to Osteopathic Family Medicine. I loved treating the whole patient and using my osteopathic skills learned at MSUCOM from my mentors. Stepping into my practice was not what I expected as I was slated to join a large group of family physicians and now, instead I was being asked to consider taking over an office where two physicians were being let go. The idea of taking on more responsibility was both exciting and daunting, but a whole office a lot of patient and it was only me. Looking back, that was some of the best times of my career, I was able to shape my staff, policies and even convinced an excellent RN to change careers from surgery to primary care. I was in heaven.
Without any anticipation of change, change came anyway and began to be the ever present constant for the next twenty years of my career. There were hospital mergers, acquisitions, corporate changes. Personal changes of marriage, moving and more jobs, career options and redefining of what my ideal practice looked like. This was a long period of personal change.
My focus, vision, philosophy and beliefs changed. Some of my friends said it was “in my chart”, they were speaking Astrologically, not medically. Others said, “Oh you are just trying to figure it out.” “It” being my career and life. Either way, it was a lot of change. Luckily, my husband Andy loved this type of adventure as well. Our own personal development seemed complementary to one another and because of our deep love and respect we transitioned a number of things that might cause others to break apart. Instead, we seemed to break open into more love, understanding and growth. Trust me, sometimes the trench work we were doing did not feel easy at all. But we did it.
Now, fast forward twenty-four years after graduation, I still love what I am doing. And I am humbled and grateful for my many medical adventures throughout my career. Medicine has changed a lot from when I started and as we look at our current culture, needs, challenges and goals, medicine will continue to evolve to meet all of these needs. This change that we navigate can be especially hard if our vision is rigid or fixed, if we don’t like change and especially if we just want to figure out how we can truly have a passion and vision for what we do as physicians (getting in touch with the reason we became physicians anyway) versus just showing up and treating patients and going home.
Now, I take my experience, skill, vision and inspiration to support others as they are on their own journey of development and growth is simply amazing. It says on our consulting page, (‘tain’t much we haven’t seen and nothing scares us). This is actually a true statement, born of a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and some great laughs for sure.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CHANGE:
- It is always with us. Nothing is stagnant and nothing stands still.
- Having a team of likeminded individuals (OK, call them your tribe) is one of the most important ways to navigate change. In the tribe you enjoy shared experiences, input, and support from someone who is in similar circumstances. This is very meaningful and fun.
- Following your dreams, desires and goals can feel very challenging when change is being forced upon you. You may feel paralyzed instead. This is one of the three aspects of the fight, flight or freeze when you are in the stress response. This can be very debilitating, dare I say a traumatic like experience.
It is this kind of inspiration and support that you can expect from all of us at Cairn Medical Consulting. Our experience speaks volumes when combined with compassion, empathy, and resilience, all of which are the keys to success. So here it is, CHEERS to our initial blog and launch of our website and services. To those who chose to come along for this great adventure, we say WELCOME.
Be Well ~ Mary