In a practice filled by daily activities with colleagues, staff, and patients, women physicians often feel isolated emotionally. “A 24/7 career gets in the way of making personal connections.” Women physicians succumb to a masquerade as strong and independent, even in their darkest moments of self-doubt.
In 2012, after I interviewed women in my local medical community to discover what support they most wanted, the monthly Women’s Physician Circle was born.
Internist Dr. Andrea stated, “I looked forward to the group… as a sounding board for some of my difficulties in dealing with the public, as I have no other support system…. It seems like I should know how to do this by now, but …I will never be comfortable with the nasty, demanding, or angry people that I encounter in my office from time to time.” As the Circle listened thoughtfully, another physician agreed.
Women need to share their stories, doubts, fears, and solutions with each other. A medical culture that encourages sharing helps harried physicians find comfort and increased connection with peers.
Since 1938, The Harvard Study of Adult Development, which tracked lives of 724 men from a cross section of socioeconomic groups, asked about work, home lives, and health. The clearest message is: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
- Social connections are really good for us, and loneliness kills. People who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer than other people.
- Quality, rather than the number, of close relationships are more important.
- Good relationships protect our brains and bodies. The memories of people in relationships where they can count on the other person in times of need stay sharper longer.
Installment on the good life
Relationships require an investment of time and energy. A client confessed, “I put fun and connecting with friends on my calendar, but I don’t keep my word to myself. Other things bump it.”
For your busy life, try blending several aspects of your life into one activity:
Work and Family
Involve your family in a work-related community or CME event.
Work and Friends
Get tickets to share a local event with colleagues.
Invite a colleague for lunch each month.
Work and Health
Take a 5-minute walk break with a co-worker.
To invest now in your future best self, think where to put your time and energy. The good life is built with good relationships.