“Storms make trees take deeper roots”

We often underestimate our abilities, simply because we’re used to being undermined.  We’re afraid of exploring of what’s in store in our lives because more often than not, we’ve settled into our comfort zone.

Dolly Parton once said, that “storms make trees take deeper roots“.

I’ve had friends that have asked me about making career changes.  Interestingly, of all the professions, the health and medical profession is the most resilient.  That’s because a lot of doctors (nurses, pharmacists, medical technologists, etc) go into this field because of their “calling”.  Unlike other professional journeys, those in health care and its allied specialties are “dedicated” servants to their careers. Of the health professionals, being a doctor is perhaps the most difficult and challenging.  And I’m not talking about the tests and costs to becoming one here.

Few career paths require such relentless resolve and commitment as the path to becoming a doctor. I am sure that the thousands of doctors out there have their own stories to share.  Some memorable and fulfilling, others tragic and disappointing.  Like everyone else, doctors have feelings.  As a matter of fact, I think that it’s one of the most (if not the most) stressful professions.  Ever.

Being a physician is like tiptoeing on eggshells.  It’s not everyday that you get run of the mill cases where it’s only a cough or cold that needs water and bed rest in order to get better.  It’s usually the cases of having to decide on life and death, on having to tell the patient or their relatives the bad news, of having to grieve with patients rather than celebrating life – that make the profession challenging to hold on to.  The younger ones are usually burned out early.  The older ones would prefer to retire.

Ironically, while there is distinction in being a physician in the Philippines, there are challenges in the daily grind. Multitasking is the norm.  There’s the select few who mix teaching with a little bit of practicing the profession.  They join the academe while dedicating a few select hours to healing.  The second class are those who mix corporate life with an even thinner (or no) practice.  These are the captains of the industry who manage to sneak in a few patients after office hours.  Some of them give up their clinical profession and eventually stay in the corporate world. The third group are those who are full time government employees but engage in private practice if and when they can (usually after office hours or on weekends).  The fourth group are the entrepreneurs who squeeze in personal business trade with their clinical practice.  They usually personally own the business and are able to balance their (other) dream job with their practice.  Finally, there’s the full time practitioner.  He/she hops from one clinic (or hospital) to another (braving the horrendous traffic of the metro) from the break of dawn to dusk is their way of life.

Each of these categories have their pros and cons. The reason for multitasking range from financial remuneration to a personal satisfaction of being able to fulfill one’s passion (academics, research, corporate, business, governance).  The bottomline is, we spread ourselves too thin.

Too busy that we’re not mindful of our daily activities and end up being caught by the burden of doing things for others. Forgetting to be kind to ourselves in the process is not the kind of existence we signed up for, just because we are doctors. We cannot heal others when we are not strong.

You see my friends, we are like trees.  Nature (or life) creates storms to test our resilience every now and then.  Sometimes the storms come one after another testing how strong our roots are.  Other times, and hopefully more often, there are good days – allowing our roots to dig deeper and become more resilient as we prepare for the storms of our professional lives.

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