WholeHearted Physicians Aligned, Connected & Thriving (Wholehearted PACT)

The Wholehearted PACT (Wholehearted Physicians Aligned, Connected & Thriving) is a model I have designed to  guide the implementation of the Thriving Physicians Project.

#MuzzledPhysicians #WholeheartedPhysicians

To those it needs most
Medicine is becoming…
#yvonnetrieshaiku #100daysofhaiku

Imagine receiving a phone call that your still-comatose father has been discharged from a hospital in a third-world country because the doctors are on strike…
It happened to me.

It could happen to you.

Yes, even here in the United states.

In January 2015, for the first time in decades, physicians at the University of California went on strike. The previous year, physicians at an Oregon hospital unionized. A revolution is underway…

In the US, 400 physicians commit suicide each year – the equivalent of a medical school shutting down annually. Female physicians are 200%  and male physicians 40% more likely to commit suicide than their female and male counterparts in other professions. At any point in time, 1 in 3 physicians is experiencing burnout. And 90% of physicians would not recommended medicine as a profession.

Hundreds of Compassionate, Humanitarian, Idealistic and Visionary physicians who went into medicine to help people and make a positive impact in the world are leaving medicine.

Please join me in the Wholehearted PACT (Wholehearted Physicians Aligned, Connected & Thriving) to prevent physician burn-out, heal the doctor-patient relationship & help burning-out physicians thrive by donating today.

The Problem
Physician burn-out is a public health issue that affects all of us. Today’s epic levels of physician disillusionment, compassion-fatigue, burnout and suicide result from assembly-line medicine that prioritizes profits over people. Doctors are on an ever-speeding treadmill to see more and more patients which increasing strains the doctor-patient relationship.  We all suffer the consequences with longer wait times and shorter contact time with our physicians who are forced to stare at electronic medical records screen instead of their patients.

Physician burn-out is also becoming a human rights issue. Lunch breaks and bathroom breaks are a luxury as physicians spend more time on paper work, advocating for patients with insurance companies while dealing with increased burdens of practicing defensive medicine for fear of being sued.

Many medical students go into heavy debt for their dreams to serve as physicians, and then as physicians find themselves trapped in unsustainable working conditions in order to get out of the debt they sacrificed their lives for.

As a result, physicians are overworked, undervalued and unable to find the time to care or advocate for themselves without penalty. Physicians are trained to be superhuman. Any attempts at reaching out for help or support are often perceived as weakness or incompetence. Those who do reach out for support risk for career suicide.

So, physicians are left to suffer in silence and isolation. These conditions combined are a recipe for the horrific experience I had with my father’s death.

Please join me in the Wholehearted PACT (Wholehearted Physicians Aligned, Connected & Thriving) to prevent physician burn-out, heal the doctor-patient relationship & help burning-out physicians thrive by donating today.

My Story
Physician burnout is very personal to me.

I have personally experienced the worst case scenario with Physician disillusionment, compassion and burnout. In Nigeria, in 2011, my father had a stroke which left him in a coma. During his coma, the physicians went on strike. All the patients in the hospital including my still comatose father in the ICU were discharged. Needless to say, my father, who was brilliant individual, educated in Russia and London, died unceremoniously in a makeshift rural clinic.

That same year, a family friend, jumped off a bridge to her death half-way through her intern year of residency.

Then, a burning-out resident physician reached out to me for help on facebook using a fake name to protect herself. as she shared her story.

I knew I had to do something…

Ironically, I am a US trained medical doctor who left medicine under similar circumstances.

I was the classic idealist medical student. Born in London, raised in Nigeria and the United States, I saw the impact of access to health care and health infrastructure, human rights. I wanted to be a medical missionary.

In medical school, I made a pact with Albert Schweitzer that if I made it through my first year, I would serve the underserved, marginalized and disenfranchised in his honor. I successfully implemented HIV PACT (HIV Prevention via Awareness, Counseling & Testing) as a 2005- 2006 NC Albert Schweitzer Fellow and a finalist in the Labarene Schweitzer fellowship selection.  After implementing a pioneer HIV outreach program which served over 2500 people and trained over 75 medical students to provide HIV outreach for the rest of my medical schooling until graduation, I won several awards including a Humanitarian Award and 2 service awards. I was on my way to being my hero Albert Schweitzer.

During 4th year, I had my first child and relocated to Baltimore to begin my Internal Med-Pediatrics combined residency.  Having matched in Baltimore, without family or friends for social support, I began in earnest. Alas, 80 hour weeks and a 5 month old infant do not go hand in hand. I was in crisis. Usually an easy going, bubbly personality, I went for 6 months without smiling. On the verge of burnout, I stopped sleeping for days to cope with the demands of the profession. I began experiencing palpitations and chest pain. I reached out, but was sent to a psychiatrist who said I didn’t need a psychiatrist but needed support and tools to help me thrive.

Reaching my breaking point, I decided it would be best to resign. Old habits die hard – I immediately enrolled at the Masters of Public Health program at Johns Hopkins which I completed. With my new public health skills, I began to notice and encounter the trend of an alarming number of health professionals going through compassion fatigue and burnout.

Because of my own burn-out experience and after interviewing several physicians, I sense we are on the verge of a revolution in medicine. With the current levels of disillusionment and burnout in the US, I have become convinced that we are going to start seeing physician strikes here. I learned about physicians unionizing in Oregon in 2014. Then, my fears were confirmed in January 2015, when during a personal trip to San Diego, the first Physician strike in decades occured at multiple campuses of the University of California.

I am concerned that there will be more physician strikes in the United States and my personal experience with my father will become more common if we do not make physician well-being and vitality a priority.

Please join me in the Wholehearted PACT (Wholehearted Physicians Aligned, Connected & Thriving) to prevent physician burn-out, heal the doctor-patient relationship & help burning-out physicians thrive by donating today.

Our Solution

In honor of the 400 physicians who succumb to suicide each year, I am starting the Thriving Physician project to inspire a global tribe of compassionate, humanitarian, visionary, mission-driven, altruistic physicians to live the ideals that brought them to medicine,  make a positive impact in the world and thriving in their calling.

Continuing the pact I had with Schweitzer, I have created the Wholehearted PACT (Wholehearted Physicians Aligned, Connected & Thriving) model to prevent physician burn-out and help wholehearted physicians thrive.

To prepare for this work, I have undergone certification training in positive psychology coaching as a personal and executive coach and also undergone certification training in the Daring Way (TM) Facilitation.

Because of the high debt burden among physicians, medical students and residents, I want access to this service to be unhindered by financial difficulty, and I hope to provide the work for medical students, residents and physicians on a “pay-what-you-can” basis.

Please join me in the Wholehearted PACT (Wholehearted Physicians Aligned, Connected & Thriving) model to prevent physician burn-out, nurture doctor-patient relationships and helping burning-out physicians thrive by donating today. 

Wholehearted Physicians – Helping Humanitarian, Idealistic, Visionary Physicians value  and cultivate wholeheartedness including compassion, empathy, excellence, courage, vulnerability, authenticity and service,
Aligned – Restoring physicians’ alignment with their ideals and strengths via individual and group coaching in positive psychology by a team of certified coaches and therapists, providing confidential guidance and support in helping physicians build the lives they want.
Connected – Creating belonging through Daring Way (Dr. Brene Brown’s curriculum on connection, courage, vulnerability and shame resilience) facilitated retreats, workshops and webinars; Hosting podcasts and web-series on physician vitality & wellness and interviews of inspiring leaders in medicine; Creating a safe, positive and sacred space online and offline to share their stories and be inspired by their growing tribe of wholehearted physicians.
Thriving –  Helping physicians thrive in their personal and professional lives by providing physicians with opportunities for  full life integration by  through  service (including volunteering for medical missions, mentoring  and health policy advocacy with resources and tools for medical competency, practice management and continuing medical education),  self-expression (such as creative exercises in music, art, poetry, photography and writing) and self-care (work-life integration, mind/body wellness, rest, exercise,debt management, financial education, relationship skills for parenting, marriage and friendships).

Where Your Money will go
Your money will help support a 3 month startup period for this thriving physician project and the implementation of the Wholehearted PACT.

1. Positive Psych Coaching  for 30 physicians – $15000
As a proof-of-concept, I am offering a month of sample coaching sessions. And then moving into a 50% subsidized rate.
2. Wholehearted Physician (Daring Way) Retreat for 8-10 physicians – $6500
3. Website – $5000 A safe space for physicians and other health professionals to share their stories, connect with community and tap into media and other resources for service, selfcare and self-expression.
4. Administrative support – $10000 Legal ($4000), accounting ($2500), personal assistant ($3500)

Total costs – $36000
Campaign goal – $25000

What Your Support will do
Your donation will help equip physicians, medical students and residents with skills for resilience, connection before they burn-out. 

Your donation will support my work to prevent physician burn-out, compassion fatigue and disillusionment.

By donating you care for physicians by helping them continue to care for patients, even in an increasingly corporate medical culture that values the bottom-line more than patients.

Your donation will help transform the shame-based medical culture of isolation, blame and perfectionism to a compassionate medical culture that fosters connection, resilience, courage and empathy.

Your donation supports and empowers physicians to live their calling as healers.

Your donation increases your chances of having a compassionate and empathetic physician when you or your loved ones are sick.

Your donation increases the likelihood of a physician who is already burning -out  to reach out for help instead of committing suicide.

Thank you for your support.

Through speaking, coaching, facilitating, podcasting and consulting, I partner with residency directors, medical professors, hospital administrators, health organizations and conferences to ensure that physicians and physicians-in-training have access to the tools and resources, are in a positive space to utilize the options they have.

A happy physician means a happy patient.

Everyone wins. Enabling residents to finish residency, medical students to finish medical school and attendings to build thriving practices are all parts of my dream to build a tribe of wholehearted physicians and health practitioners who will live their ideals and positively impact the world.

Please, join me in the Wholehearted PACT by supporting my Thriving Physician project  to prevent physician burn-out, nurture doctor-patient relationships and help wholehearted physicians thrive and donating today.  

Thank you for your support.

Yvonne Whitelaw, MD, MPH

“Grow into your ideals so that life will not rob you of them. “ – Dr. Albert Schweitzer

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