I’ve never been skiing. I’ve made it through 9 Chicago winters so voluntarily subjecting myself to snow and cold seemed foolish. On the other hand, I was in need of some nature time so presenting at the Rocky Mountain Winter Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado seemed like a great start. So, I thought of a topic related to my sports medicine interests, borrowed some ski attire, consulted my skiing/snowboarding friends, and was on my way.
I attended a pre-conference session on finding purpose and happiness, centered around the Japanese concept of ikigai. As the only resident in the room, I listened as attendings shared stories of resilience, burn out, frustration, and success, and then there was me: the representative of the millenial generation. I thought about how easily we forget about purpose in the chaos and details of the ER. Pressing pause and taking my search for meaning to the slopes was a great way to confront the coming year and deciding what my career will look like. Some light thinking for two days of conquering the (small) slopes surrounded by natural beauty and much more talented skiiers. Despite my falls and bad knees, I felt a sense of flow, and as I focused, my frustrations quickly melted. Seeing my skills progress and feeling myself getting better was something I hadn’t experienced in some time. In a career where it seems there is no such thing as “good enough” mixed with a hint of Type A personality and the pressure to achieve more, there is little time to be proud of what we have accomplished. We need to do a better job of acknowledging our colleagues and supporting people’s successes and resilient behavior, especially during residency. All around, this conference was a great way to reset and recharge after a busy MICU month, and just in time to return to the busy ER for our Epic transition.
- Dr. Gabby Ahlzadeh, NUEM Class of 2019