Are you happy and fulfilled with your career and life at this moment? You have worked hard to acquire titles, possessions, and achieve goals on your life checklist. Perhaps something feels as if it is missing from your life, so you reassess or reassign another goal to cross over to the path of contentment.
I too spent my years checking off the lists to make sure that I became a doctor, got married (and then divorced) in style, and collected designer high heeled shoes.
There was a signature sound of my designer high heels that echoed in the hospital corridors where no stilettos had ever roamed before. The click-clack of my heels was the signal to my physician colleagues, nurses, and patients that I had arrived. Female brain doctor, epilepsy specialist, and never-to-recover chocolate addict. The truth of the matter was that I was overwhelmed and sleep-deprived trying to keep up with 80-90 hour work weeks. Despite professional success, I felt all alone. My single prayer every morning was that no one would discover my shame and loneliness that was I hiding underneath a starched white lab coat.
FEELING ALONE IN A VALLEY OF BURNOUT
Twelve years ago, I didn’t know that the symptoms I was suffering had a diagnosis of physician burnout. As a newly appointed faculty member in neurology at that time, no media headlines or studies were in existence to give my symptoms a name. Instead, I hoped that no one would find out the shame and struggles I was hiding underneath my starched white lab coat.
How do you know if you or a colleague is suffering from burnout? I always ask physician groups to look for the following: a feeling that the lights are on and no one is home. You may be going through the motions, struggling to keep up, and feeling disconnected from your life emotionally.
I just internalized the symptoms of emotional exhaustion and a low sense of personal accomplishment. I thought my problem was that I was a physician failure. I pushed myself to exceed RVU (relative value unit) expectations in the increasingly profit-driven world of medicine. I could never find the time in my 80- to 100-hour work week to catch up on research, medical records, or tend to my personal health.
I entered neurology at a time when less than five percent of neurologists were women. I knew very quickly to keep my head down, heels high, and stay laser focused. The truth of the matter was that most days I felt overwhelmed and lonely trying to keep up with the 80-90 hour weeks.
The fashion in our closets, the men we date, and our hairstyles have may have changed over the years. One situation has remained on course — for the majority of us working women in the United States isolation in leadership positions in the workplace remains. The number of women in senior leadership positions remains at 10-14% depending on the industry; a statistic has not shifted in 15 years.
Today, we are standing in the midst of the unprecedented movement about the role of women in the workplace. Rooted in the critical conversations around the #metoo and #timesup movements, the tide is shifting to help heal and empower women.
A message for ALHI Executive Women in Leadership retreat guests:
"It was an honor to be the presence of all of you at the ALHI EWIL retreat in July. As I close my eyes in meditation in the morning, I don't think I will ever forget the energy of a powerful Grace that your entire group shared with me. Thank you for the open hearts to hear a message about the role of mindfulness and mindful leadership in your personal and professional lives.
A special thank you to our hosts at Vista Collinas and Meritage Resort & Spa for helping to create a spectacular experience.
If I can continue to answer any of your questions or be of service, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. firstname.lastname@example.org
With a heart full of gratitude,
Dr. RomieRead More
A message for Oracle Women Leadership (OWL) workshop guests:
Thank you for inviting me to your Oracle offices in Orlando to meet the dedicated women and men of Oracle. I'm excited that you all were open to the message of mindfulness and meditation to help you reach peak performance.
Many of you reached out with additional questions. We book 30 minute and 1-hour virtual consultations. You can email email@example.com for rates and how to schedule the time to consult together.
Remember that your mind is strong medicine.
With a heart full of gratitude,