“Making a connection” can sound trite, but it can also be the difference between a good and bad day for a physician. Making connections, deepening relationships over good conversation, and becoming more reflective in the quiet moments about things that are important to you — this is the stuff of resilience and well-being.
In her book, Remedy for Burnout: 7 Prescriptions Doctors Use to Find Meaning in Medicine, Dr. Starla Fitch cites five examples of connections that can lift the spirit and help physicians find meaning:
- Connection is the spark that ignites when you have a conversation in the lounge and you laugh at the same jokes, commiserate over the same wins or losses, or offer congratulations or condolences for the highs and lows we all experience.
- Connection is the wave of heartfelt peace we all feel as a healthy, pink newborn baby is handed to her mother.
- Connection is when you reach for an instrument from your scrub technician in the OR and, without an exchanged word, (s)he hands you the very instrument you need.
- Connection is noticing a look on the face of someone you care for — a loved one, a staff member, a colleague, a patient — and knowing that something is very right … or very wrong.
- Connection is the telomere in the DNA of finding meaning in medicine, the part that provides stability to the unit.
Sometimes it’s obvious when you make a connection. You walk away from an interaction and you know that you feel better than you did before. For the moment, you are grateful and buoyed by the experience. Other times (like the examples above with the scrub technician or conversation in the lounge), you may have to reflect a bit to realize that a connection has been made. Either way, human connections are fundamental to meaning in medicine. And to life.