Taylor Herbert, MD, PhD
For me, music has never been an option. It is a basic drive that can be postponed but never denied. Music is a ledger to tabulate my thoughts and ideas, a cipher to decrypt my own emotional code. When I write music, I seek Truth. Through recording or performing music, I try to carve sound and words into a Rosetta Stone that allows me to directly communicate that truth to others.
Music also lets me breach the emotional barricades I build to defend myself from the heart-rending situations encountered by my patients. Music is one of the few things that makes me vulnerable. It keeps me in the world. To repay some of what music has given me, I released my album “In the Tall Grass” (available at taylorherbert.bandcamp.com) as a download for donation project to benefit Club Nova, a local charity that helps people with mental illness.
Andrew Perry, MD, MPH
The key to wellness is finding things that help you put yourself in balance, even in an unbalanced situation like residency training.
I like to write short stories. Creative writing isn’t a way of telling someone your ideas. It’s a way of discovering what your ideas are. Most of the time, I’m using my writing to think about the hospital and what happens there. If you feel like giving up some sleep, you might consider keeping a journal of your experiences as a resident. I guarantee you will learn somethings about yourself and medicine that you didn’t know.
I also like to read. The average protagonist in a novel has way more problems than I do, and they often fail to solve them until the last ten pages of the book. Also, they are fiction. So, you could read a book for fifteen minutes before you go to sleep, just for perspective.
Or, you could catch up on sleep.
Or spend time with your friends, or go running, or have a beer on your back porch as you talk to the squirrels. I won’t judge.
When you think about wellness, please don’t make a list of “wellness activities” you have to complete. As a resident, you’ve already got a fairly long list of things you should be doing. It’s no good sitting in a cardiac operating room at 9 pm beating yourself up because you didn’t have time to go running.
Instead, think about who you are in addition to being a doctor, and think about what that part of your needs. Then try to get to it without feeling bad if you don’t. Goal directed people that you are, you will probably get there sooner rather than later.
You have all been trained to care about your patients. It’s OK to care about yourself, as well.