See Good, Feel Good

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published December 2nd, 2009 

This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 5 – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.


Look for the good in everyone

We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can make a choice about how we feel and think about those things. We could focus on the bad we see in humanity. We could react and get angry or frustrated, and let them wreck our day, or we can pause, and choose a different heartfelt response. – Dr. Frank

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.
Henry Louis Mencken, A Little Book in C Major, 1916

Forty-five minutes before the end of my night shift, the charge nurse Jeff, approached me with a problem. “I just put a domestic violence case in 24,” he said, “I feel really bad for this woman. She’s going through a nasty break-up and somehow her ex found out where she was staying. This morning, as she was picking up her kids, he rammed her car. I guess it wasn’t the first time the guy did something like this.  She already filed a police report. But now she’s complaining of head and neck pain as well as left rib and shoulder pain.”

I felt the pressure. I was exhausted, but Jeff wanted me to find a way to stretch myself a little more, to get in there and help. He genuinely felt bad for the woman. Just then, I was called away on an important matter. I was on the phone when the incoming doctor arrived. As he opened the curtain on 24, I heard him exclaim, “He did it again? I just saw you two weeks ago for the same thing! But it looks like you had a different name back then.” In an instant, the allegedly battered woman was miraculously healed. She got up and walked out the door.

Turns out, she lied. She registered without an I.D. And she almost got away with it. If any other doc showed up that morning to relieve me, or if I had found a way to get into the room before the phone rang, her lie would have gone undetected. What possessed her to get up at the crack of dawn and come to the hospital with such an elaborate story? On her previous visit, the woman saw the same doctor, and left with some pills to help ease her pain. My guess is that she wanted more pills. The question is, “Why?”

Was she in an abusive relationship where her tormentor forced her to get these pills? Was she addicted and looking for a fix? Did she need the pills to sell for cash to put dinner on the table? While we’ll never know which scenario applied, it is clear that she came to the Emergency Department because she had a problem that she could not fix herself. She needed our help.

In our work of helping others, it is easy to see how and why we can become jaded or burned out. Until humanity perfects itself, others will always try to take advantage of our good nature. So what? Who cares? Desperate people do desperate things. We cannot let others make us bitter. We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can make a choice about how we feel and think about those things. We could focus on the bad we see in humanity. We could react and get angry, or frustrated, and let them wreck our day, or we can pause, and choose a different heartfelt response.

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

When things like this happen, we can take the opportunity to see our own kindness, tolerance and compassion reflected back to us. We can feel good, we can feel satisfied with who we are as people, and with what we do. No doubt, as the holidays move closer, we will all be in this same position over and over again. But if we follow Jeff’s lead and express compassion anyway, we will experience all the joy this season brings.

TAKE ACTION

Make the choice to see the good. Be good, do good, look for the good, and most importantly, feel good!

All the best,
Dr. Frank

Take a Time Out

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published September 14th, 2011 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 5 -EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.


 

Take a time out

SOS CLASSIC Time Out

Sometimes, being “right” is not all that great. Our need to be “right” all the time can actually lead to feelings of frustration and unhappiness, especially when we demand validation for being “right.” -Dr. Frank

All blame is a waste of time.  No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame them, it will not change you.  The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration.

You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming them, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.

-Wayne Dyer

Am I right?

Sometimes, being “right” is not all that great. Our need to be “right” all the time can actually lead to feelings of frustration and unhappiness, especially when we demand validation for being “right.” Am I right?

But there are two types of “right.”

As a doctor dealing with life and death situations in the Emergency Department, others want us to be right all the time. I feel I need to be right too and, in fact, I love it when I make the right diagnosis and the right treatment plan. I enjoy the satisfaction I feel, internally, because I figured it out and was able to make the situation better for a patient. The truth is, in the end, as a doctor I don’t need my patient or my staff to validate me. In this situation, being right is a good thing.

That other need to be right

Working in the day-to-day grind of a busy ED, conditions are difficult and challenging on a regular basis. On those days when chaos seems to reign, how many times have we judged and spoken badly about another doctor, nurse, medic or secretary? “She’s a bed blocker!” “He’s such a slacker!”  How many times have we complained about what we perceive as another peer’s lack of work ethics?

You know what? We might be right. That peer may not be doing their best. We may be totally right about what we think.  And when we are working harder to pick up the slack, we may be totally justified in our righteous indignation. But are we right when, instead of speaking to them directly and finding a creative way to ask them to step up their game, we get angry? Are we right when, in our attempt to find some relief, we complain to others, hoping they will agree with us and get angry too?

This kind of need to be right is very dangerous. It divides the staff and causes bad feelings. This type of self-righteousness is what destroys any sense of TEAM and UNITY. In times when it’s not right to be right, we need a tool to help us deal with what the real problem is, our frustrations and how we act on them.

Taking a time out

When we are dealing with thoughts and feelings, we have to look beyond the physical and into the quantum field of energy and emotion. It is on this level that we can begin to see that the problem is never the problem. The problem is only what triggers an “automatic-robotic” emotional reaction within us that causes us to act out in negative ways. In other words, the real problem is how we react to the things that we perceive as a problem.

The Time Out tool can help us deal with the what’s really happening. I know, it sounds like what you would use on a three year old, and in some ways it is. But please don’t dismiss it until you’ve tried it. It is a powerful tool to help us regain conscious control over our reactions and transform our day.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Something happens that pushes our reactive button.
  2. STOP: Realize that the problem is not the problem; it is our automatic reaction to the situation that is the problem.
  3. Identify the reactive thoughts/feelings and make the choice to inject a new positive thought that will be the cause of something new and better.
  4. Finally, make the switch and speak or act from this new internal quantum space.

Remember, we may be “right” – but just being right prevents us from looking for a creative solution and coming up with a thinking-feeling response that has the power to change the situation and make everything better.

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

TAKE ACTION

We can be 100% right about what we think is wrong, but that doesn’t mean we see the big picture. We don’t always know what’s going on with the other person. What’s more, when we judge someone as wrong or bad, we are actually hurting ourselves and making matters worse for everyone. This is how we allow our frustrations to steal our joy. It would be in our best interest if, instead of just reacting, taking it personally and fighting to be right, we try to see what’s “right” about them.

When we stop making the other person wrong, we are able to share our observations and work with them to help shift the situation in a more efficient and equitable way. Behaving in this manner is what empowers both parties to create a sense of teamwork and unity. We can transform our day, but only if we stop and take a time out. By letting go of blaming others, we stop experiencing the effects of our reactions. And, by taking a time out, we take back our power and become the cause of something much, much better.

Have the Best Work Day Ever,

Dr. Frank

What’s Your Name

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Originally published July 7th, 2011 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 5 -EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.


“What makes me feel good at work is knowing that I cared and that I made a difference for someone – my patient, my co-worker, the housekeeping staff, security, etc. Making someone’s day through my care always makes me feel good.” – Dr. Frank

What’s your name?

Let’s face it, we all want to feel good at work and feel good about the work we are doing.  I love Lucy, and Lucy asks us: “What is it that makes you happy? What makes you feel good at work?”  What makes me feel good at work is knowing that I cared and that I made a difference for someone – my patient, my co-worker, the housekeeping staff, security, etc. Making someone’s day through my care always makes me feel good.

How would you like to get more from the work you are already doing?

To show our care for anyone, the first thing we have to do is to get fully present (really show up, so to speak) and connect with them. One of the easiest ways to connect is to learn someone’s name. With this connection established, we can move our attention to learning what is going with them and empathizing with them and their situation. When we feel them, and they feel it, our compassion is activated and this will make them feel better, make a difference for them, and really make their day.  In the process of delivering true care to our patients, this experience of compassion will also make us feel better because it will light up the dopamine-rich, feel-good centers in the pre-frontal cortex of our brains.

So, if we want to feel good at work, we need to move through the process of presence, connection, empathy and compassion with each patient and person we encounter. Our satisfaction (feeling good, having meaning, purpose and happiness) lies in this experience of compassion. But we can’t get to compassion if we don’t truly connect with our patients and each other first.

The 30 day project

I am really bad with names. Most of the time, I know my patients as the one in room 9 with chest pain or the one in room 4 with an allergic reaction. My experience at work is that most of us refer to our patients in this way when communicating with each other. Which means that most of us are not making the necessary connection for compassion, so many of us aren’t feeling as good as we could.

I want to feel good at work more and wish the same for you. I want us all to experience more satisfaction when we work together. But if we want more, we have to leave our ordinary day, our ordinary ways, and our ordinary thinking if we ever hope to experience the extraordinary. If we believe that there is more to this life, that there is a better way, then then we have to step out of the ordinary and start doing something differently with a new and fresh approach.

I propose we doing something differently and in a new way. Think of it as a “30-day Project” to add more satisfaction and feel good moments into your work day. I am calling this the Names Project. For the next 30 days, I am going to be adding names to my experience at work.

I am going to make the effort to learn the names of each of my patients. I am going to go into the room and introduce myself, ask them how they would like me to know them or what they would like me to call them. Then I am going to ask them to help me remember their name by sharing one thing about themselves that would help me remember it, something that would make their name stick in my mind: What they do  their favorite thing in life is or what kind of pet they have at home, what do their children do, what their favorite food is or even their favorite color.  Finally, I am going to ask them about their situation, the context around what is wrong for them and how I can help.

This approach will help me get present and connected and start moving me towards an empathetic connection with them. By doing this, turning on the compassion and making a difference for them will be all that much easier when the time comes.

Get your copy of "Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care" at amazon.com

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

I would like to extract more happiness and fulfillment from my experience at work.  I believe that you want the same.  When we want more, we have to leave the place we are in and start the journey to that land of more, that land of plenty, the land of quantum satisfaction. I hope you will join me by participating in the Names Project.

TAKE ACTION

Keep your eye on the goal and work to have constant satisfaction at work.

As a means to the end game of feeling good continuously, let’s step out of our ordinary way of referring to patients by room number or medical problem, and make the effort learn their names. I will ask you for the EKG on Mr. Smith who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for his 30th birthday and you can show me the lab reports for Debbie who runs the homeless shelter downtown.

Let’s all participate in the Names Project and please let me know how it goes!

Best ever,

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

How Did They Know?

 

SOS CLASSIC - How Did They Know?

When we walked into the emergency clinic, they asked what was wrong. With tears in my eyes, I simply told them my dog Jake needed to be euthanized. The response of the entire staff was so profoundly compassionate that even through my pain I could not help but notice. In a split second, everything softened and blurred. I sensed these people knew exactly what Jake and I were going through. —SOS Classics are reprints of Shot’s of Satisfaction that Dr. Frank Gabrin shared as he wrote his works Back from Burnout, Care 101 and Booster Shots. Each shot contains a glimpse of Dr. Franks personal journey back from burnout.

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Step 5 -EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.

Originally published June 22nd, 2011

How Did They Know?

My dog Jake – “Junk-Yard Jake” – taught me a very powerful lesson about caring for others.  Jake was an incredibly loving and sensitive dog. He was the runt of the litter and was challenged in so many ways since birth. In fact, the breeder was planning to put him down because she felt he would not be healthy. I could not allow that to happen, so 12 years ago, I adopted two dogs, Jake and his brother, Max.

2001-01-07 12.40.55-2Jake was on borrowed time his whole life.  He was very fragile and needed to be bottle-fed as a puppy. But throughout his life, he always looked after his brother. He cleaned Max’s ears. He licked Max’s wounds when he had his medical collateral ligament repaired. He let the kids tug on his ears and brush him. He let the smallest of them ride him like a pony.  Each and every time he went outside he found a piece of junk to bring home to me as a present. He let me dress him up on holidays so we could have a new card to send to friends and family. He wore hats and sunglasses, bunny ears at Easter and reindeer antlers on Christmas.

In the dozen years I had the privilege to call Jake my own, he comforted me through each and every one of my disastrous personal dramas. The breeder was right, Jake did face a lot of health challenges, but he was always happy and he never complained. He did not cry about the eye problems that eventually took his sight. He did not whine about his mitral valve and the trouble he had breathing that resulted from congestive heart failure. He did not whimper about the water pills he had to swallow and all the trips he had to take outside because of them. And not once did he complain about the brain tumor that made it nearly impossible for him to stand or walk. Despite his eroding health, Jake was always happy to see me, hang out with me and give me puppy kisses.

Jake was 84 years old – in dog years – when he went to Doggie Heaven this week.  Although we did everything we could to extend his life, I knew the time was near. He was overcome by his health challenges and his happiness was replaced with restlessness and discomfort. His brother Max finally looked at me with eyes that said, “Look Dad, it’s time.  Do something to help him, please.” On the way to the emergency veterinarian, Jake lost his cognition and began to seize. I felt horrible for him. For the very first time in my dog Jake’s life, it was very clear to me that he was suffering.

When we walked into the emergency clinic, they asked what was wrong. With tears in my eyes, I simply told them my dog Jake needed to be euthanized. The response of the entire staff was so profoundly compassionate that even through my pain I could not help but notice. In a split second, everything softened and blurred. I sensed these people knew exactly what Jake and I were going through.

It seemed as though they were suddenly aware of everything about Jake and his amazing life. They knew exactly how painful this was for us and they displayed incredible sensitivity. They spoke to me as if they knew us both, as if they had been there when we took those pictures for the holiday cards.

They stepped out of the ordinary and delivered extra-ordinary care. They were empathetic and connected to our suffering. I believe I saw tears in their eyes and heard their voices crack as they walked us through the process. They treated us with kindness, compassion, respect and reverence. It was as if something sacred from Heaven had descended and overtaken this piece of earth. Their care made a difference for me, for Jake and for Jake’s other daddy, Vince. They were attentive to all of our emotional needs and went the extra mile to make certain we were OK. They knew how special Jake was and they treated him with the utmost care until he gave me one last puppy kiss and took his very last breath.

I have some regrets that I did not appreciate Jake enough while he was alive, but he taught me something really important through his death. When a hospice patient shows up in the ER because the family panicked, do we offer them and their family the same kind of support that Jake, Vince and I received? Or are we simply irritated that they called 9-1-1 when clearly their loved one did not want any heroic measures?

Death is the common denominator for all life and it shows us how we are all essentially the same. At times like this, we all want the same stuff – love, understanding, tolerance, kindness and compassion. But above all, we want to be treated with respect and human dignity.

TAKE ACTION

Real heroes know that happiness and satisfaction come from caring more about the lives of others than about themselves. Real heroes do whatever it takes to change things for the better, especially when others are in distress.

Today, exercise your SUPER POWER of sensitivity and see the hurting human in front of you. Understand that THEY are YOU; you are both the same. Connect to them through their distress with empathy and a big helping of COMPASSION. Go ahead, feel your glory.

Best ever,

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

Find Your Way

Find your way

The only way we can feel satisfied at the end of the day, is to do the real work- the extraordinary physical, emotional and spiritual work – that it takes to connect with each other through compassion. — SOS Classics are reprints of Shot’s of Satisfaction that Dr. Frank Gabrin shared as he wrote his works Back from Burnout, Care 101 and Booster Shots. Each shot contains a glimpse of Dr. Franks personal journey back from burnout.

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Step 5 – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, circle back and begin again.

Originally published May 18, 2011

Find your way to care

A friend of mine asked me a really deep question recently:  She said, “You know, my family is my universe. But what if there is someone in the family who is mentally ill, or on drugs, whose behavior is constantly challenging? How do you deal with that?” My response surprised even me, so much so that I need to share it with you.

I told her that this is something that I am seeing more and more often. Many people are dealing with issues that would push any us to our limits – from joblessness to hopelessness, to mental illness, emotional instability, family meltdowns and addiction. In these times of crisis, many may turn to alcohol, to drugs, and sometimes, just have a total breakdown. These souls are are family and we want to care for them. We want to help them because we know it is the right thing to do. Still, this does not make the situation any easier to navigate.

See the hurting human

I went on to say that I understand that it is difficult to deal with any individual in crisis, more so when it is a family member. But, something that can help us is to remember that the person in front of us did not wake up this morning, look in the mirror and say, “I am going to do less than I am capable of today.”  Believe it or not, this may be their best moment. It does not matter if they are alcoholic, on drugs, demented, psychotic or mentally disabled. No matter what it is that renders them incapacitated, they are broken and doing their very best.

It’s also important to remember that we would not be standing in front of them if we did not want to care and did not already have the capacity to care for them. When we see a person in need, it is up to us to dig deep and find a way to connect with them and to allow ourselves to feel their pain as if it was our own. This is how we will truly see the hurting human in front of us, not just their condition, and what will activate our compassion. It is from this state that we will find the word or action that will express the care we feel for them with kindness and human dignity.

We are all doing our best

The reason many of us find this so difficult, is that, as humans, we are uncomfortable entering into someone’s pain without having a solution for them first. This is why we are often so quick to give advice – to avoid feeling any more of their pain. We fear that entering their pain will consume us, overwhelm us, drain us, and deplete us.

But in reality, the exact opposite is true. We are actually energized and empowered when, instead of turning away from their pain, we connect, empathize, comfort, console and reassure them. It is by sharing our strength, courage, optimism and  humanity with them that they begin to feel some relief, and so do we. We both end up with more.

We live in very challenging times. We are constantly being confronted with difficult situations and there is no end in sight. It helps us to remember that these people in crisis, like us, are doing their best. Just like my friend.

I reminded her that it is in our own best interest to find a way to care for them. As caregivers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles or cousins, it is in our DNA to care. The only way we can feel satisfied at the end of the day, is to do the real work- the extraordinary physical, emotional and spiritual work – that it takes to connect with each other through compassion. This is what will bring about the unexpected and the miraculous results of our care. It is the synthesis of all the great spiritual wisdoms: Love thy neighbor as thyself.

TAKE ACTION

Thankfully, there is a recipe for success in these situations. The late Father Henri Nouwen left it as his legacy. Try it for yourself.

1) First, show up and get fully present. Connect with with the hurting human in front of you.

2) Next, set your thoughts aside and put their fears, concerns and needs in front of your own. See them through respectful eyes, and remember that you are both human and deserving of human dignity, the milk of human kindness, just because you are human. Love your neighbor as yourself.

3) Then, allow yourself to feel their pain as if it were your own. Stay in this uncomfortable place with them, without offering to fix anything, until things change.  Don’t be afraid, this will not overwhelm you or drain you. This is how your compassion is activated and where the transaction of care occurs. This step of the process will enlarge you, energize you, empower you. This is where you access your power to change things and make the situation better.  Here you don’t DO anything, just BE with your patient. Think of it as the Sinatra moment.  You know Frank always sang, “Do-be-do-be-do!”  Genius!

4) Finally, move on to the practical, physical matters that will help make their situation better, or at least a bit more tolerable.

All the best,

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

Get your copy of “Back from Burnout: Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care” at amazon.com

 

 

Mrs. Punxsutawney’s Groundhog’s Day

SOS Classics are reprints of Shot’s of Satisfaction that Dr. Frank Gabrin shared as he wrote his works Back from Burnout, Care 101 and Booster Shots. Each shot contains a glimpse of Dr. Frank’s personal journey back from burnout.

Shot of Satisfaction Classic

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.

Step 5 – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.

“Now, ten years later, the person who talked and complained is still talking and complaining and still remains in the same position.  The person who took the initiative and found solutions has been promoted several times.” -Catherine Pulsifer, from How Valuable Are You?

Who’s responsible?

Punxsutawney Phil will get all the credit for predicting the arrival of Spring.  While he basks in the spotlight, I wonder about Mrs. Phil…  Apparently the two have a very well, grounded relationship, though she remains completely behind the scenes.  As half of a celebrity couple, what do you think she would say if you asked her, “What does the shared responsibility between two individuals need to be to make a relationship work?  50/50?  51/49?  70/30?  80/20?

My mom always said in a relationship someone has to love more than the other. She thought that one person had to be willing to work a little harder to keep it going. I took Mom’s advice. But in more than 50 years on the planet, I haven’t been able to make a relationship last. I hate to say it, but Mom was wrong.

Complaints are just excuses

The truth is that until we are willing to give 100% with ZERO expectation of anything in return, we have little hope of making a relationship really work. If we give with the expectation of receiving, we will continually sabotage the relationship and it will fail. We have to be willing to be 100% responsible for making it work REGARDLESS of what the other person thinks, says or does.

The amazing thing is, this rule also applies to every other aspect of our human existence. The day we take 100% responsibility for our life is the day we set ourselves free.

All of us would like to think we take responsibility for ourselves, but truth be told we all love to moan and groan. If we listen closely, we will hear ourselves complain about the President, the economy, traffic, our neighbors, our kids, our significant other, our co-workers, etc. We even complain about the weather. Isn’t that right, Punxsutawney Phil?!

Complaints are just excuses for not taking responsibility. But there are 3 things we can take charge of if we want to make things better for ourselves:  (1) What we do or say, (2) What we don’t do or say and (3) How we respond – or react – to what has been done to us, or what has not been done for us.

If we want to live in freedom, there can be no excuses or blame for anything, ever!  In every moment, I am responsible for what I do, for what I say, for what I fail to do or say, and how I choose to respond to what life throws at me!

TAKE ACTION

Remember, we are self-responsible!  We have the ultimate power to create our experience of life. This is the only way that we can be the cause of our own happiness and not the effect of another’s ignorance, bad mood, intolerance or blatant disrespect.

Take 100% responsibility for what you say, do, fail to say or do, and how you respond to every situation. This is how to live your life as the cause of your own satisfaction!

All the best,

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

Back from Burnout:  Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care

Get your copy today at amazon.com
Get your copy today at amazon.com

 

SOS Classic – Take the Money and Run

SOS Classics are reprints of Shot’s of Satisfaction that Dr. Frank Gabrin shared as he wrote his works Back from Burnout, Care 101 and Booster Shots. Each shot contains a glimpse of Dr. Frank’s personal journey back from burnout.

Originally published April 13th, 2012

Shot of Satisfaction Classic

REFLECT – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.

Take the money and run

When spring is in the air, we want to open the windows and allow something fresh inside. Have you ever asked yourself, “How the heck did I get here?” Better yet have you asked yourself, “Where do I really want to be?” “Who is it I really want to become?” Now is a great time of year to take stock of where we are in our lives and renew our commitment to becoming our best selves and fulfilling our wildest, fondest dreams and aspirations.

What if you could snap your fingers and suddenly be in seventh heaven where you have absolutely everything you wanted from this life? What do you see? Picture it this way; if where we are now is point A and where we want to be is point B, by seeing exactly where we are at this moment, we have the opportunity to see in ourselves what is it that we need to do, that we currently are not doing, to get to where we really want to be.

Creating our dream

Life is like a lab where we experiment with different sorts of creative processes until we find the one that works for us, the process that fulfills our desires. This creative process requires true commitment, a patience to stay the course. If when we take a look around and we see we do not have what we really want, we simply have to switch the direction of our creative work back towards our dream.

We all believe that we will have true happiness when we finally arrive at our desire. But is that really true? Think of times when you’ve achieved a desire. How did you feel as you were doing the work to create it? If you are like me, being engaged in the creative process makes us happy too. Especially when we are creating what it is that we really want for ourselves.

So what gets in our way? Even when we are doing all the right things, we can be in that place where we just need to do a little more to get to our ultimate goals. Success could just around the next corner then suddenly we get impatient, we don’t want to wait- we want it now.

Settling for less

The problem is that at if at this moment we get some of what it is we desire, or something similar to our desire and we are happy in the moment, we stop short of our goal! We fall prey to the human frailty of settling for less. We, in effect, take the money and run. 

We stop our diet and exercise plan as soon as someone notices we are looking better and pays us a complement.

Is our desire a simple one time complement? No! But we forget that what we really wanted was to get in the best shape of our lives. When we are looking for a relationship, the minute we get a little attention, we are happy, and worse yet, we mistake the attention for love. We settle for partial fulfillment rather than complete the process of creating a lasting, fulfilling relationship. Whenever we settle for less than what we were working towards, we’ve diverted from the creative process we must go through to get what we really want.

Holding out for our dream

By seeing where we stop short and settle for less, we can change our course and get back on the path towards the creation of our dreams. 

Letting go of the big picture and settling for something else in the moment will always leave us empty! It is so simple really- it’s not what we really want. It is not what we we looking for in the first place. None of us sets out to find a zero! Our capacity to hold out and hold on, to continue to do the work, requires us to stretch past our usual levels of endurance, to stay on the treadmill just a little longer to get the body we really want.

In the fulfillment of our dreams, we all go through a creative process of trial and error, of working for, exerting effort for, of earning what we want. If we engage every fiber of our being in that process and stretch our capacity to hold out for what it is that we really want, not only will we will get there, we will be happy in the process. Never settle for less.

Remember, if you wanna dance like Snoopy, you gotta pay the band.

TAKE ACTION

Let spring in and take the time to reconnect to what it is you really want from this life. Then redirect yourself in that direction and exert the sustained, thoughtful effort to care for your own creative process. Let everything else drop aside and enjoy the process of becoming your best self on the path to creating all you ultimately really want in your life!

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

Back from Burnout:  Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion
Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care

Get your copy today at amazon.com
Get your copy today at amazon.com

 

 

SOS Classic – Pick One, Just One

SOS Classics are reprints of Shot’s of Satisfaction that Dr. Frank Gabrin shared as he wrote his works Back from Burnout, Care 101 and Booster Shots. Each shot contains a glimpse of Dr. Frank’s personal journey back from burnout.

Originally published June 1st, 2012

Shot of Satisfaction Classic

REFLECT – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.

Pick one, just one

Last week, I was fortunate enough to have one of my essay’s published in the latest issue of Medical Economics. In the piece I spoke about the difference between care and cure and also outlined a five step process for delivering true care. Thank you for the amazing feedback I have received from many of you.

If you have not had a chance to read it, you can find it here: 

Medical Economics May 25th 2012

The other day, I was speaking with one very busy cardiologist about the article. He felt it was all nice and warm and fuzzy, but, he told me, medicine today is such a mess and it’s run by the insurance companies and the government. Doctors today can’t even make a decent living and doctors, quite frankly, are just too busy to care.

Many of you, both on the medical and the nursing sides of the house, probably agree with him. I used to feel this way too.  We are very busy! But I have to ask, what is it we are busy with? [I am sure you could all give me a laundry list of all the “things” you are busy juggling- but set that list aside for just a second or two.]

Settling for less

Each and everyone of us, if we are honest, will admit that we chose these careers because we wanted to care. We knew then, and we still know now, that caring for others makes us feel good, makes us happy and gives us satisfaction.  It follows then, that if we are so busy that we can’t care well, then we can never go home at the end of the day feeling anything close to satisfaction. If we can’t care well, then we can only expect to feel frustrated, overworked, under-appreciated and ultimately suffer from burn out. From within this empty sullen place, it follows too then that we can find it almost impossible to care.

If you think about it, the reason both we and our patients are so flat and empty at the end of our “patient encounters” is because we simply have each settled for less, on both sides of the stethoscope. Letting go of our pure initial desire to care, and settling for something else, like making the diagnosis, starting the IV, or charting the long list of medications from the nursing home paperwork will always leave us empty! It is so simple really- it’s not what we really want! It is not what we we looking for in the first place. What we have now, is not why we came to these careers in the first place. My cardiologist friend is right, the practice of medicine today is such a mess.

Getting what we want

Those of you who know me have heard me say it a bizillion times: If you do not have what you want in this life, you simply have not done enough work to create it. Somehow, I managed to turn my mess into success. I no longer feel the way my cardiologist friend feels. I am happier than ever in my practice of medicine because I know what I want, and I know how to get it.

I am just as busy as every one of my peers. As a matter of fact, I am may be busier than some. The only difference is that I do not go home empty and flat when I leave the hospital because I make the effort not to. I do the work to serve patients who desperately want and deserve my care, for I know that focusing beyond the physical stuff we do to provide the cure and focusing squarely on the intangible ingredients of care, at the end of the day, is the only thing that will satisfy my desire, quench my thirst or ignite my passion.

Engaging in something that your desire did not really include or want to begin with (focusing only on the mechanics of the job, the charting, the analyzing, the prescribing, the billing) is nothing but distraction and will always leave us flat and empty. It is kind of like making widgets for a living. That is not what we wanted. That is not why we went to school.

My prayer for everyone who works at the patient’s bedside is to feel the same joy, the same passion, and the same sort of lasting satisfaction and fulfillment that I do and that will begin with one patient. Just pick one patient and try the five steps to true care. This will relight your fire and passion for care. It is all you really wanted in the first place.

TAKE ACTION

As you move through your busy work load, take the time to step out of the ordinary. Pick one patient or distraught family member, and do the extraordinary work of care. Follow this fail-safe five step process:

  1. Get fully present and give them your undivided attention
  2. Make a real connection with them. Ask them their name, and ask them to tell you something about them that will help you remember their name. This is surprisingly effective and establishing real connection.
  3. Diminish yourself, in other words, make yourself less important than them, humble yourself. Make their needs, more important than your own, listen to them with your heart, not your ears. It is in this humility and service to others that you will find the very best of you.
  4. Move into a place of empathy, imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes, feel their pain as if it were your own. Most importantly, stay in that painful place with them, until you both feel something shift- don’t worry- you will know this moment when it arrives. Don’t worry about the pain that you feel. It is real. But for you, it is only temporary.
  5. Turn on your compassion, without fixing anything, just want things to be better for them, want the best for them. All the feel good dopamine rich centers in your prefrontal cortex will light up and you will feel incredibly good. Now, speak or act from there. You will naturally know what to say or do.

Try this today, just pick one, start with one. You will see that this really does not add much time to the encounter (if any), but it adds such value to both parties that the once you try this, you will automatically want to do it more and more often, for nothing feels better clinically than to effectively deliver care that makes a difference for another and changes things for them.

As our friend Matt already knows, when we give our best- we feel our best. The receiving is really in the giving. Never settle for less!

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

Back from Burnout:  Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion
Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care

Get your copy today at amazon.com
Get your copy today at amazon.com

 

 

SOS Classic – United States of Care

SOS Classics are reprints of Shot’s of Satisfaction that Dr. Frank Gabrin shared as he wrote his works Back from Burnout, Care 101 and Booster Shots. Each shot contains a glimpse of Dr. Frank’s personal journey back from burnout.

Originally published June 29th, 2012

Shot of Satisfaction Classic

REFLECT – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.

United States of Care

Yesterday (6/21/2012), the highest court in our land decided to move forward the “Affordable Care Act” here in the USA. Some are happy about this, others are angry. Many don’t know what it will mean to them personally in the big scheme of things and, as far as the ways in which this new act will change the delivery of medical goods and services moving forward, I don’t think anyone can really know yet.

I am intrigued by the fact, and have to stop and point out, that even the name of this initiative, to make “CARE” affordable, points directly to the exact “intangible” piece that is missing in our current system.  Care is an “intangible.” You can’t touch it, hold it, buy it, wrap it, put it on a shelf, or display it, but we all know deep down inside we can’t live without it. There is no happiness, no joy, no satisfaction in living life acting as if you could care less.

I am here to tell you that real freedom for all of us this Independence Day comes from the realization that, in our pursuit of happiness, we actually can’t afford “NOT TO CARE” any longer. It is time to call on and unite all of our friends; tolerance, kindness, compassion, sympathy, empathy, grace, and human dignity. Stevie Wonder said it best when he sang “Love’s in need of Love today.”

As I look out my window at the Statue of Liberty, I can’t help but hear those famous words in not only my head but my heart…

“Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

TAKE ACTION

Focus on caring for all those you come into contact with this extended Independence Day.

Get present, connect, diminish yourself and make the other more important than you, empathize with their situation and then engage some compassion for them, just wanting things to be better for them, without actually doing anything else, will change everything.

Practicing compassion for others will help you find your own passion for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

Back from Burnout:  Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion
Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care

Get your copy today at amazon.com
Get your copy today at amazon.com

 

 

SOS Classic – Flip the Switch

SOS Classics are reprints of Shot’s of Satisfaction that Dr. Frank Gabrin shared as he wrote his works Back from Burnout, Care 101 and Booster Shots. Each shot contains a glimpse of Dr. Frank’s personal journey back from burnout.

Originally published July 16th, 2012

Shot of Satisfaction Classic

 

REFLECT – EVALUATE your results. Recognize what you bring to the encounter. Is your giving care effective? If not, go to step six and begin again.

Flip the Switch

The other night I walked into the department, up to the main desk, and said hello. I was greeted by the nurse practitioner on duty with “I don’t know why those charts are sitting there, they are trivial complaints, and should have been seen in fast track a long time ago, but that doctor and mid level are apparently in the middle of a work stoppage. Neither of them has seen a patient for hours. I am so mad, I have so many patients I am juggling, I can’t even see straight. They just keep putting more charts up there like as if we are the only providers who can actually see and care for patients in this department.”

The doctor on duty then looked up and shrugged her shoulders, in agreement, as if to say, ‘yeah, it’s busy, it’s bad, no one seems to be very helpful tonight, I don’t know what to tell you.’ Clearly, neither of these providers of health care were very happy. The two of them were broadcasting all sorts of emotional information into their environment, and my MNS (mirror neuron system) was fully engaged ready to mimic their agitation, frustration, feelings of being taken advantage of, including their sense of being overwhelmed, right back to them, but, I stopped myself.

Escape from Mudville

You see, just last week I stood at that very same counter, trapped inside those same awful feelings of unhappiness and frustration that these two were experiencing right now, and I was unable to do anything to snap myself out of it. I’d even got angry with myself for being stuck and I’d realized while I was gone that I would have to do something to change things for myself and others. Full of empathy for these two who were suffering from the same dis-ease I had the last time I stood in that same place, I decided to actually do something:  I shut down my own automatic MNS (mirror neuron system) physiology.

My “MNS” is what gives me the power to feel their pain and empathize with what they were thinking. I have lived through those same horrible thoughts and feelings while at work too many times myself, so I made a conscious effort to smile at the two of them and say, “I’m fresh. It’s good. I’ll get these patient’s seen on on their way, we are gonna be OK! It’s going to be great tonight!” I grabbed the two charts sitting there and headed towards my desk as I wondered, today here in Mudville, where there is no joy, where exactly could I find the entrance to the world of happiness and satisfaction?

As I rounded the corner I was greeted by a very pretty lady with a giant smile on her face and the best cup of coffee ever in her hand, prepared just for me, just the way I like it. As I took the first taste of her amazing brew, I realized that she was broadcasting a whole different sort of emotional information into our environment. My MNS made me fully aware of the way she and her energies made me feel. I not only allowed my MNS to put a smile on my face, I decided to augment those good feelings and made my smile even bigger because I realized that I had just encountered the way out of Mudville that could lead us all into the world of happiness and satisfaction.

Switching off auto-pilot

There will always be events and people in our environment that are downers, and likewise there will be people and things all around us that are wholesome, good and uplifting, and people who care about us and want the best for us. All of these things (and people), good or bad, positive or negative, lie outside of us, out of our control. Things like the weather, the stock market, traffic, lazy people, inconsiderate people, rude people, even happy and helpful people, none of this are in our control. With all that we encounter, many days we do not even have the energy to take control over our own mood.

Our mood is dependent on our physiology, which is automatic and plugs us into the energies in our immediate environment and so that we automatically begin to “feel” the vibe in the room, the intangible energies we find ourselves swimming in. We then begin to feel and then broadcast those same energies ourselves, adding more of those same energies back into our immediate environment. Our mood is generated by our brain’s continuous automatic processing (through the MNS) of the feelings we see in the people who cross our paths. Our amygdala reads the emotion on someones face, or hear the emotion in someone’s voice in less than one second and primes us to feel the same exact emotions, good or bad, happy or sad, even joyful or mad.

When left on automatic, our physiology allows the MNS to continuously make us the effect of our environment. Living our lives this way makes us feel like victims of circumstances or the effect of another’s foul mood and unwanted behavior. But none of us has to live this way, running around on auto-pilot. As humans, we have the ability to flip the switch off of auto-pilot and to take control by activating our free will and making a conscious choice to steer our own course. Our free will is our tool for controlling our mood amidst all of the things or people in our environment that are out of our control.

Taking control

If we really want to control our own mood, if we want to feel good, feel happy, or feel energized, we need to make a conscious decision to choose what we focus on and which sorts of energies we connect to or pay attention to. Remember, even when the overall environment is negative, there is always something good, like the perfect cup of coffee that greeted me with a smile around the corner.  In order to connect to these energies that will nourish us, support us, empower us, energize or enliven us, it is up to us to actively look to see and hear them. As we do, our automatic MNS will then amplify and augment these found benevolent energies within us and add more of them into our surroundings, making us and those around us feel better.

Our environment will be the same, but as we change, as we start looking for and connecting to the good we find around us more and more often, everything for us will become sweeter and more satisfying. It is not easy to live our lives as the cause of a new and better reality for ourselves and others, because living our lives this way is not natural or automatic. But if we want to feel good in whichever environment we are in, we need to do the extremely difficult work required to interrupt our automatic mammalian physiology as it is controlled by our limbic system and the MNS, and then make the effort to seek out and hone in on the good that exists in every encounter. Once our attention is fully focused on the good, we can now allow our limbic system go through the physiologic process of generating even more goodness within us and broadcasting that benevolence, happiness and joy to all those who then cross our paths.

TAKE ACTION

I see this life as if it were a lab where we can experiment with different sorts of creative processes until we find the one that works for us, the process that fulfills our desires and results in happiness.

This week, try this creative life experiment:

  • Just for today, no matter what you see, what you hear, what you feel is happening to you; stop, flip the switch off of auto-pilot and look to see it or hear it differently.
  • Look to find and connect to only the good in every encounter.
  • Take on the challenge to see the good, connect to that good and be that good!
  • Then you can allow your mammalian physiology to automatically or naturally enhance and broadcast that goodness that you are to those around you.

This is guaranteed to make you, me and them, all feel incredibly good!

When you feel your best, others want the best for you and when you are sipping the best cup of coffee ever, it is really hard not to give, share and enjoy the best day ever!

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

Back from Burnout:  Seven Steps to Healing from Compassion
Fatigue and Rediscovering (Y)our Heart of Care

Get your copy today at amazon.com

Get your copy today at amazon.com

 

Shot of Satisfaction
Antidotes for Burnout and Compassion Fatigue
Thursday, December 17, 2015
A Pot of Gold

Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on … Continue reading