Walk with a Doc Newsletter
Good morning! Don’t you love it when numbers come together?
Janet, I know he’s your cardiologist, but I’m telling you. I can’t read another week of this cr-p.
Numbers. Today, 3/3/17 is Rachael’s official 3rd anniversary as our Executive Director…and our family adds our 300th Chapter today.
#300, who wants it? #100 is Dr. Susan Pike, superstar Georgetown, Texas plastic surgeon at Baylor Scott and White. #200 is the amazing Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation in Dallas, Walk and Roll with a Doc.
One of the other 49 want one? Cannot wait to see. If not, you’re going to have to wait until October when we hit #400.
Someone the other day asked me to write on work-life balance. Here ’tis:
It was eleven years invested into medical training wasted. After doing my best for eleven years after college, I found myself totally ineffective at changing my patient’s behavior.
We had had wonderful heart to heart talks. These conversations were real, full of great intention…and essentially worthless. As my patients came back for their six and twelve month follow ups, I realized I had not done my job. Their heart disease, which I knew to be 82% preventable, was not interrupted. It was a runaway locomotive. They were still sedentary and they hadn’t lost a pound. A matter of fact, they were up 3 pounds. The weather had been too hot. The weather had been too cold. They knew they had to “get out”. This frustration didn’t repeat itself with one patient or a dozen patients, this was hundreds becoming thousands of patients. I was ineffective despite long, emotional conversations. One day, that was it. I refused to play this charade for what I hope to be a 30+ year career of trying to help others.
Now, I would make them say ‘no’ to my face.
I asked a patient in November 2004 if they would join my wife and 2 little ones at the park for a walk.
This was met with a different response. There was a sparkle, a new level of connection between that patient and this physician. That was the day that Walk with a Doc was born. Since that late fall day, my inevitable path to burnout ended, and my life-work balance began. That day was also the beginning of a melding of my personal life and my medical practice; two things that many doctors fight feverishly to keep apart, as did I. As unconventional as this ‘Reese’s Cup’ sounds to many, it actually works. We’re terribly honored/excited to share that 1000’s of other health care providers have followed suit and likely 10’s to 100’s of thousands of HCP’s will very soon.
Walk with a Doc is a pop-off valve for us as physicians. It is simply an hour of our week where we can meet patients on their terms and for that matter, our terms. We are in a park or a mall (winter can be harsh in Ohio), and we’re in our comfortable clothes (read ball-cap and jeans). We’re talking about the Buckeyes, laughing about Saturday Night Live or discussing potential dream vacations. We’re also talking about our blood pressures, our palpitations or whether or not we should take a statin. Most importantly, we are doing it while we are walking or wheelchair rolling. At the park we have more than seven minutes to see a patient, we have as much time as we need, and we love it. All of our 299 communities love it. We get thanked way more than we should because it benefits us just as much as it does our patients. Every single minute, every single smile, comment and pat on the back reminds us of why we went into medicine. We know that 82% of cardiac disease is preventable if we exercise regularly, eat well, maintain a healthy weight and don’t smoke. Our 6800+ Walk with a Doc events in 2016 arguably hit all four of those. Many ‘Walks’ provide fruits and healthy recipes/samples. The walking component goes a long way in addressing the physical activity component. Many doctors also know that the endorphins released by walking, activate the same receptors activated by nicotine, therefore cutting cravings. The opportunity to do this with patients is a gift. Over 600 Saturdays have come and gone since our inception and I still hate to miss one. This leaks into the office throughout the week.
I now have the excitement of closing every visit with either, “I would love for you to join me at Walk with a Doc on Saturday” or “It was great to meet your daughter this weekend”. Our chapters know that they are going the extra mile for their patients. That brings a whole new level of camaraderie to their offices Monday through Friday. The office visits are shortened dramatically with our walk participants.
“I think I told you everything on Saturday, David. I’m really doing great,” the patient may say.
We stumbled upon something very special. This level of familiarity between patient and physician breaks down many important barriers. In the process of eliminating those barriers we are showing a vulnerability, that sparks fantastic, lifelong friendships. These are friendships that the health care provider cherishes and go a long way in preventing burnout. Our health care leaders around the country are in every meaning of the phrase ‘walking the walk’. As patients, and as providers, we are empowered by watching this needle move. We are watching it move away from sedentary lifestyles and loneliness and into a world of togetherness, hope, activity and progress. That is why I refer to it as a life-work balance. Since that cold November day in 2004, I don’t feel like I’m working near as much. I feel like I’m living.
Welcome to the Family
Co-Branding Sponsor Franciscan Health adds another Walk in Olympia Fields, IL (Dr. Srinivas Reddy and Patty Peele).
Illinois Wellness and Weight Loss Centers in Chicago, IL (Dr. Goldwyn B. Foggy and April Smith)
Kwan Yin Healing Arts Center in Portland, OR (Dr. Kitt Guaraldi)
Suzanne E. Martini, MD in Sunman, IN