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What is your passion and purpose? I’m sure you knew definitively when you first went into medicine, but do you know now?
Vandna Jerath, MD, FACOG, is a solo ob/gyn physician in private practice, women’s health blogger, and healthcare social media expert. She is the medical director at Optima Women’s Healthcare and Optima Vitality MD, Parker, Colorado. She can be reached at vjerathmd@optimawomenshealthcare.
What is your passion and purpose? I’m sure you knew definitively when you first went into medicine, but do you know now? Is it the same reason as when you started? Is it to help others and care for women? To deliver babies? Find a cure for a certain disease? Continue a path of higher learning? Grow into administrative medicine or be a researcher? Support your colleagues? There is no right or wrong answer, but you should know the answer and be on a career path to fulfill your passion and purpose.
In the January 2016 issue of Contemporary OB/GYNlabor force survey, 19% of respondents reported being extremely unsatisfied and 37% somewhat satisfied with their current job situation. Work-life balance is a key factor in career satisfaction, but knowing and fulfilling your passion and purpose is just as important.
Many of us first went into medicine with an idealized dream of caring for and helping others. Some of us were natural-born healers and others were not. Many of us entered medicine because we were inspired by our own doctor, another healthcare provider, our parents, our teachers, a mentor, a sick family member, or volunteer work. We were motivated and worked with tenacity, not only to care for patients, but also for self-fulfillment. How many of us actualized our dreams? According to the survey, it appears to be less than half.
Today, it is hard to be a physician due to the patient, personal, professional, and administrative demands placed upon us. But being in medicine is a privilege that can be fulfilling beyond your dreams if you cultivate your passion and purpose.
I started in medicine because I was inspired by my own pediatrician and encouraged by my parents. I had the typical laser-focused path through medical school and residency. Since that time, I’ve experienced career highs and lows and my road has been bumpy, just as it has been for many of my colleagues. After 10 years in practice as an ob/gyn, I was on the path to burnout and dissatisfaction, but I made a change to stay true to my vision.
In 2010, I decided to start my own solo ob/gyn practice in an unfamiliar community. It was the scariest but also the best decision I ever made. I realized that my passion was to care for women throughout their lives-from puberty, through childbirth, and to menopause and beyond-with a doctor-patient relationship that allowed open communication, respected patient autonomy, and was a true collaboration. My purpose was to become a promoter and educator of women’s health and to empower women, patients, and my community about their health. Through my new private clinical practice, I restructured my approach with my patients to allow more time to develop a stronger rapport, improve communication, and deliver better healthcare. I slowed down and focused on what was important to me and the patient and developed what I considered to be a true doctor-patient partnership. I’ve also found innovative ways to promote women’s health and empower women as a healthcare social media champion (more on this in a future blog). This has allowed me to develop a deeper connection with patients and has been more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined.
Once I stayed on a path to nurture my passion and purpose, many other wonderful opportunities and relationships arose. I have a positive relationship with the administration at the community hospital where I practice, although I am one of only a few non-employed ob/gyns. With their support, I’ve also been able to do more patient and community education through seminars, interviews, and other events. I’ve also been able to participate in other professional opportunities such as blogging, teaching, and consulting to support my colleagues.
Although I work hard and can be overwhelmed by all I do, I am no longer on the path to burnout and dissatisfaction. I have been able to make my passion and purpose in medicine a reality.
Now, it’s your turn to share-What is your passion and purpose in medicine?