At the Whole Health Medicine Institute, we just graduated the second class of miracle-working physicians, and I have to say, I am stunned by these doctors (you would be too). You might have an idea of what doctors are like, and this group of healers would bust every stereotype you could concoct. Not only are they brilliant, skillful, highly qualified experts; they are also intuitive, heartful, loving, spiritual, feminine, nurturing, trusting, sexy, creative, and brave as hell. If you were privileged enough to witness their transformations the way our team at the Institute witnessed them, you would tear up. That’s how beautiful they are.
I could gush forever, but instead, let me tell you a bit about these doctors, just in case any of you are wondering where you might find a doctor who has been trained in the 6 Steps To Healing Yourself, as spelled out in my book Mind Over Medicine. These heart-bursting physicians have learned and been certified in practicing the techniques intended to activate their patients’ superpowers as self-healers. They have also undergone a deep personal transformation, allowing themselves to be transmuted through this process personally so they are able not only to apply the best of what Western medicine has to offer; they are also prepared to work with patients at the level of spiritual healing. When physicians do the deep personal work to free themselves from the cage of the ego, they allow themselves to become vessels for Divine Love flowing through them, and this too facilitates miracles.
So . . . (drum roll please) . . . let me introduce you to some doctors I love and trust.
As a disillusioned physician who felt like I was selling my soul in order to keep the stability of a job within the insurance-based US health care system that demanded that I see 40 patients a day, I longed for a different life. As a young woman, I thought medicine was my calling. For me, medicine was a spiritual practice. You practice medicine like you practice yoga or meditation, like you won’t ever fully master it. As a doctor, I felt grateful to have the opportunity to have a front row seat on life, and as an OB/GYN, I felt particularly blessed the have the opportunity to greet the newly incarnated souls right as they entered the world.
But over time, I began to doubt my calling. Although I now realize how common my feelings were, at the time, I felt different and isolated among other doctors. Even though I felt called to medicine at the age of seven, I came to think I had made a mistake. I was the sole provider for my family, with a husband and a newborn to support, but I wound up quitting medicine at the ripe old age of 37.
It took me nine months to realize you can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling. I’ve since realized you can use your medical education in countless ways that don’t require seeing forty patients per day. I thought there was only one way to be a doctor. You either followed the blueprint, or you quit. I now realize some of the happiest, most successful doctors are creating mission, purpose, and abundance using what they learned from becoming a doctor to serve in other ways. In case you or someone you love resonates with the archetype of the true healer but feels frustrated with the current system, I want to share with you some of the creative career choices of doctors I’ve met since leaving conventional medicine to pursue a writing career.
You might think doctors enter the field of medicine in order to get rich, please their parents, or gain status, and sure, there are probably some money-driven doctors who were given only two choices of professions by their parents-medicine or the law. While I’m not saying those things aren’t motivators for some, I will claim that what drives doctors to endure the sacrifices of medical training goes far deeper.
On a teleclass I was leading with Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen for the doctors of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, Rachel asked us, “How old were you when you first realized that the life of another living being mattered?”
We were all less than ten. Rachel has been asking this question to thousands of doctors for decades, and the answers are consistent. We are the children who go out early on rainy days to rescue the worms from the mud puddles so the bullies don’t squash them. We are the girls who nurse the injured baby birds back to health. We are the boys who cry out when the other boys are pulling the tails off lizards.
I was the Squirrel Girl. As I explain in greater details in this blog post, I was the seven-year old who became the nurse to injured baby squirrels in my small Florida town. Between the ages of seven and twenty-two, I raised twenty-two baby squirrels who others brought to me when the squirrels got hurt.
Rachel told one touching story about a male doctor who remembers being only two when he cut his foot on the sharp drain of the bathtub, and his mother warned him not to step on the drain because it was sharp and could hurt him. So every night, as he got out of the bath, he dropped his washcloth over the drain, so the water wouldn’t get cut as it swirled down the drain.
The Lineage Of Medicine
As I wrote about in How To Heal Our Broken Health Care System, doctors are called to medicine the way some are called to the priesthood. Medicine is a spiritual practice. I think that’s why we call it a “medical practice.” It is something you practice, like you practice yoga or you practice meditation, like you’ll never get it fully right.
Is medicine saving us- or killing us? Are doctors helping you- or harming you? Are you improving your health by taking prescription drugs- or are you decreasing your life expectancy? Are you getting the medicine you really need? Do you even know what kind of medicine that is?
These are the questions I answer in my third TEDx talk, which I delivered live at TEDxFargo, which was organized by Fargo community leader and Whole Health Medicine Institute physician Dr. Susan Mathison.
I had a meltdown on the plane on my way to Fargo because I knew what I would be discussing has the potential to be wildly controversial, and I wanted to ensure that my message was not misinterpreted by the very people I seek to serve- doctors and patients. I reached out to one of my mentors, Brené Brown, and she talked me off the ledge with an email that guided me with exactly the advice I needed. I wound up rewriting my speech on the plane only one day before I gave the talk.
It’s bad enough that many patients leave hospitals with sutures, a bag of pain pills, and a new diagnosis that often carries a “chronic” prognosis. But according to Harvard professor Lucian Leape, something even more insidious is happening that’s leaving patients with a bad taste in their mouth. He says, “Disrespectful behavior - our ability to tolerate it, and not do anything about it - is the root cause of the dysfunctional culture we have in medicine.”
In many of my blog posts, I’ve been suggesting that the only way we’re going to heal health care is to reclaim medicine’s heart and bring love back to the healing process. So I agree with Leape. Disrespect simply isn’t loving - and it runs rampant in hospital cultures.
Disrespect In Hospitals Runs Rampant
In a pair of papers published in July in the journal Academic Medicine, Leape and his co-authors outlined six categories of disrespect prevalent in hospitals. On one end lies the overtly nasty - the surgeon who throws the bloody scalpel across the OR, the four-letter outbursts, the bullying. More common is the systematic degradation and humiliation of medical students and residents by medical school professors, the contempt dripping from the voice of surgeons as they give orders to nurses, and the way some physicians demoralize and disrespect patients by cutting them off, negating what they say, or simply not listening.
But there are other more insidious behaviors of disrespect that permeate hospital culture: passive-aggression (harshly criticizing colleagues with the intent of psychologically harming them), passive disrespect born of apathy and burnout (“I won’t even bother to return this page from the nurse”), and dismissive treatment of patients (refusing to return their calls or answer their questions).