A dialogue that recognizes imperfection, and encourages diversity…

It is so important to view our community of peers, colleagues and patients as individuals.  We are all human beings sharing the same world but holding very different experiences. Beyond the updates of everyday life, everyone has a story to tell. We hear from our friends, our peers, and our colleagues everyday, but it takes practice to aside differences, judgements and pre-conceived notions we may have and it’s often difficult to share without the fear of being judged.

After several conversations, I’m sharing of few unique stories, highlighting different reflections. By sharing our stories, we experience first-hand the strength and courage it takes to be vulnerable. Let’s celebrate unique stories and engage in a dialogue that recognizes imperfection, and encourages diversity.

“I spoke to a retired physician; for her “success” was getting up in the morning and baking muffins every day. Everybody has their own definition of success and it’s always changing. I don’t know if I’ve figured mine out yet. I had to redefine what success meant to me in terms of leading a balanced healthy life, and being happy rather than having my definition of success based on my academics. My previous idea of success helped me get to where I am, but I think my new idea of success will get me to where I want to be. “ EM, QMed 2019

“Me going to med school wasn’t all joy for my parents. Don’t get me wrong, my mum screamed like a little girl when she found out I got in. But they wanted me to be home, and this is me being gone. She loves me so much it hurts her. And it fills me with a lot of guilt, because she’s sick; I want to be taking care of her, but instead I’m far away learning how to take care of other people. I mean its all okay, but yeah. I’m very all or nothing, this was an all.” – QMed 2018

“Piano is my first true love. It is a way that I can express myself and bring the music to life in a way that I feel like it should be showcased. When I play Chopin, the music speaks to my soul, and with him, it only gets better with age. Whereas, when I play a prelude by Bach, I know I have to completely focused in order to appreciate the intricacies and perpetual motion of his pieces. I started playing piano when I was five years old and was able to work towards working at a diploma level. Through undergrad, I unfortunately wasn’t able to play as much as I was use to, but I still find solace in being able to sit in a room all by myself, and do something I love and am good at. It is the perfect way to recharge.” LS, QMed 2020

“Over the years, as I made my academic pursuits a priority, my hobbies of camping, painting, and music were put on hold. But now, I haven’t gone camping since high school, my comfort level with a paintbrush has diminished, and I am musically challenged. I think it was necessary for me to feel what it was like to have all of my eggs in one basket. Now, I realize the silliness of it and I feel as though I am trying to make up for lost time.” – SW, QMed 2019

Success. Guilt. Love. Priorities.  Everyone has a story to tell. By focusing on the individuality, the diversity and the various stories of the people in our surroundings, we quickly realize that we are not alone.

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Find yourself a Failure Friend

The article « Failing Up and Failing Better » by Sara Gray published on CanadiEM on Nov 22, 2017 outlined 5 Steps « to fail up ». The premise of the article is that failure is inevitable, so let’s accept failure and learn to fail.  The author outlined 5 principles of failure which included: 1) accepting failure, 2) breaking the silence, 3) excellent self-care, 4) learn and teach about it and 5) taking care of each other.

These principles are incredibly important as we progress further into our medical training. Take a look at this article for more information: https://canadiem.org/failing-failing-better/

It is so important to know how to support one another and debrief.

A few key pointers on learning how to debrief:

  1. Ask for permission: friends and peers may be going through a similar learning process. Debrief is most effective when friends/peers have the time to listen. Friends want to be able to listen and be present but it’s difficult to do so if they’ve had a challenging day themselves.
  2. Just the facts: Outline the story in it’s entirety to provide context to your listener. Provide your listener with context and an understanding of the situation. This allows a   “set-stage” for your emotions, and your thoughts.
  3. Express emotion: There is strength in vulnerability, and finding someone that can be your “failure friend” is key. Take the time to be honest with yourself and to find someone you can truly be 100% honest with.
  4. Learning, not finger pointing: Once you’ve processed all the facts, the emotions, reflecting on your triggers, your stressors and learning from the experience will facilitate the learning.
  5. Be present: We should aim to support, and be present, as we would expect to be supported from our own friends and colleagues; let’s be present and open-minded.

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