Greetings to our our newsletter subscribers, friends and patients. This month of March as been very interesting to say the least. Seems like our world events change if not day-to-day but hour-by-hour. These changes have certainly had their effect on our peace of mind and health.
One word that has gained more use in since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic and what we see now with the events that have unfolded in Ukraine is “RESILIENCE”. Surely the people of Ukraine who are defending their homeland have proven not only to be brave but resilient. Examples of characteristics we can all strive to acquire.
My first serious rejection in life came in the form of a letter — a rejection letter from medical school. All 10 I’d applied to in fact. I wasn’t expecting to be shut out from my chosen profession. So, I regrouped, and I was accepted into medical school the second time around in Guadalajara. I guess you could say I showed resilience approximately 25 years ago, long before the term was cemented into the medical lexicon.
Resilience in my case was measured not by how I fared on my first try, but how I recovered from the setback and grew stronger in the process. I learned that determination and resilience go hand-in-hand. Whereas fortitude may be considered the backbone of resilience, rejection fuels our will and determination to succeed.
What’s more pertinent is the way I have dealt with setbacks once set out to pass my USMLE (MEDICAL BOARD EXAMS). Failing these exams by even ONE point was devastating at the time but made me study that much harder and for up to 18 hours on most days for months. This helped sharpen my mind, consolidate my knowledge base and gain a firm grasp and reliably use that knowledge base. This also came to bear as I entered practice — for example, a patient’s relapse or untoward reaction to medication. I tended to personalize patients’ misfortunes and blame myself. I came to realize that doubting my own competencies was a form of self-rejection.
How many times have we heard our mentors tell us, “Don’t be hard on yourself?” We nod in agreement, but self-awareness doesn’t necessarily overcome personal insecurities. A 2016 article concluded that a quarter of male medical students and nearly half of female students think of themselves as imposters.
When the unexpected happens — when a patient takes a turn for the worse — it can feel overwhelming. I suggest we take a deep breath and focus on one brick at a time, a phrase coined by a physician living with Parkinson’s disease. He said, “We have this saying at our house: ‘one brick at a time.’ Keep at it every day, even if it’s just one small thing a day, just one brick a day, and eventually it will turn into a path.”
Resilience has many definitions and meanings. It commonly refers to the capacity to recover from or adjust easily to hardship or change. Resilience is the one trait that has helped me recover from setbacks marked by rejection. Whatever ordeals our professional lives may impose, it cannot match our innate ability to cope with adversity. And speaking for a cohort of physicians who have had the privilege of treating the full spectrum of humanity and marveled at the resilience of our patients and their families, perspective should probably be added to the list of coping skills we need to be resilient for the long haul.
Below is a wonderful video I’d like to share with you all entitled Resilience and Engagement Post-Covid. I hope you all will enjoy and learn from it as much as I have.
Resilience and Engagement Post-COVID – VIDEO
During this month of March we have celebrated INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY and REDO CROSS MONTH. I would like to applaud all those WOMEN who have inspired us and those who have worked for the RED CROSS to make this world a better place.
This past month I have also started a video series and soon a PODCAST on MEDICAL ISSUES for EXPATS and MEDICAL TOURISM here in MEXICO and particularly the CHAPALA LAKESIDE. So please subscribe and stay tuned to our FACEBOOK page and YOUTUBE channel for that information and content.
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As always, I wish you the best in life and in health
Santiago R. Hernandez M.D.