The workshop getaway organized by the powerhouses of FemInEM this February brought together women in health care from across the country for three days of refreshing personal and professional enrichment. As a female emergency physician in a small community hospital trying to thrive in my roles as a professional, mother, wife, sister, and daughter, isolation has become an all too familiar feeling. The difficulty of finding time to thrive as an individual, whether through exercise, writing, reading, volunteering, friendships, or time in nature, has caused me to almost give up on the task altogether. Revive19, however, lived up to its name and gifted me with some much-needed optimism and motivation for the year ahead. Here are the lessons that I hope we can all keep in mind this year:
- There are a ton of amazing women in medicine, most of whom you may have never heard of. Highly skilled women are department chairs, EMS directors, residency administrators, and insightful frontline clinicians who keep our emergency departments moving forward. While we might not be represented fairly in the upper echelons of medicine yet, progress is being made. To watch those women who have been most successful in this movement describe and own their vulnerabilities and flaws is incredibly empowering. You might not be perfect, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a #BAFERD!
- Whatever challenge you might be facing, you aren’t alone. You have numerous female colleagues out there who want to help support, train, mentor, and sponsor you on your journey to finding and maintaining an engaging and meaningful life. Whether you are trying to make your voice heard, publish your first research study, move forward from an abusive relationship, figure out how to make your marriage more functional, improve overall management of your household, or battle depression, there are women in health care who are ready to help. We just need to be better about finding one another. While the American Association of Women Emergency Physicians, Facebook’s Physician Moms Group, and FIX have been a great start, FemInEM’s newly minted annual Revive gathering is a much-needed additional opportunity for women to connect with themselves and one another.
- Let go, be bored, and get organized. Have you ever wondered why great ideas seem to come to you during the most mundane activities (eg, showering)? In these moments, our mental desk space gets cleared, leaving room for fresh thoughts to meander in and out. During most of the day, our never-ending to-do lists linger in our minds like leftovers going bad in the back of the fridge. If you think of something that needs to be done, write it down and then let it go. Juggling too many cognitive balls leaves little mental space for creativity and productivity. We need to be able to sit quietly with ourselves in the moment for at least a little bit every week. Giving our minds the freedom to wander, we are more likely to stumble upon the beginnings of bigger ideas that can launch our careers, and our communities, to new heights. Clearly, busy shifts in the emergency department are not the time or place for this inspirational thinking. However, with some careful reflection on and organization of our calendars, a few hours of time can be carved out on a regular basis to foster a whole new degree of innovation.
- This is just the beginning. Women are about to revolutionize the health care industry. As the default caregivers in our family units, we are always aware of and have a strongly vested interest in the wellbeing of those around us. We are uniquely positioned within our communities to build and strengthen highly functional systems that optimize the health of our many loved ones. However, for any of this to actually happen, we have to put our voices out there and hone our skills. That’s where Revive comes in. After just 48-plus hours in the company of so many outstanding women, I feel more empowered and equipped to do so than ever before.