Finding Diamonds

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 November 25th, 2009 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 4 -LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding?
Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.


Diamonds, Diamonds, Everywhere…

As we run around like crazy people this week, tending to all the details and distractions of Thanksgiving, take a moment to hear the words of my patient, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!” Take a moment to see past the distractions and illusions of our fast-paced world, to feel another’s pain, and to look for the things in your daily life that you are truly grateful for. – Dr. Frank

“I find that the more willing I am to be grateful for the small things in life, the bigger stuff just seems to show up from unexpected sources, and I am constantly looking forward to each day with all the surprises that keep coming my way!”
-Louise L. Hay

Yesterday, I told a patient (who came to the hospital thinking he had a bladder infection) that his CT scan showed he had bladder cancer. He said, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!”

Unfortunately, there is never a good time to deliver bad news, especially of this magnitude. The reason it’s difficult is because, in these moments, we cannot ignore a profound truth: We care about our patients.

Last week, I shared with you a story about a man who went on a journey to search for diamonds. Along the way, he discovered that his natural gifts were the real diamonds – and they were worth more than any precious gem. In the emergency department, we often get so caught up in the details of searching for the physical diagnosis that we miss the essence of what we do: provide care. Diagnosing the problem is only the first part of the journey. The actions we take after we deliver the harsh news are where our diamonds can be found.

These challenging moments are our opportunities to share our natural gifts, to provide true care, and to be extraordinary. We have a chance to feel our patient’s pain as though it were our own. We can let them know that their diagnosis affects us as well. It’s not just business as usual. We are there to help shoulder their burden. We make it our responsibility to stay in that uncomfortable place with our patients until they feel our care and understand that our purpose is to lay down our own troubles and do whatever it takes to make things better for them.

These unique human interactions between care giver and patient, this uncomfortable place where we share genuine, intimate contact, where we catch a glimpse of each other’s humanity, are the precious gems of the work we do. As we run around like crazy people this week, tending to all the details and distractions of Thanksgiving, take a moment to hear the words of my patient, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!” Take a moment to see past the distractions and illusions of our fast-paced world, to feel another’s pain, and to look for the things in your daily life that you are truly grateful for.

Courtney summed it up for us this way:

“I think the Emergency Room is a great place to work because going to work and witnessing the pain and struggle in others’ lives serves as a daily reminder to be very grateful for the blessings in our own lives. Everyone has trials in their life, and it is so easy to become so focused on the challenges that we forget to really evaluate all the good we have… A big reminder for me is when I go to Children’s Hospital. I take the kids there for various appointments, and EVERY TIME, walking through the hospital I see children in wheelchairs, and children that cannot talk or run. It strikes me as my own children skip happily at my side how blessed I am that my children are healthy. So, I am grateful that I am reminded every time I go to work to be grateful for the SIMPLE blessings in life.”

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

Remember the immortal words of John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Happy Days of Thanks!
Dr. Frank

 

It’s All About Feeling 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 October 12th, 2011 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding?
Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.


Isn’t all about feeling good?

In connecting to my desire to care for others, my work is more than just to provide an intellectual solution or immediate relief for their discomfort. My job is to manage my own personal energy, my thoughts and emotions, regardless of what is going on in my physical environment, what they are saying to me or how they are treating me. – Dr. Frank

 “Ooooohhhhh… you’re so good, I can feel your energy workin’!”
-Shawn T.

We work in an environment where everyone who enters our doors is in crisis. They are often scared, angry or upset and feel entitled to be loud, demanding and demeaning. The insults and mistreatment they often direct at us and our co-workers only add to the already stressful situation.

At times it feels like there’s a contest going on. Everyone is trying to see if they can push enough buttons to get the energy and attention they feel they deserve. How in the world are we supposed to navigate through all that negative energy? How are we supposed to remain happy and satisfied with who we are and what we are doing amid the jabs and barbs?

Last night, I had a patient’s family member ask me, point blank, if I had a clue about what I was doing or what was going on. She was deliberately trying to insult me, to provoke me, and to push my buttons. In this tricky situation (when I wanted to react), I had to remember not to let her steal my joy. I had to realize that if I wanted to be fulfilled and happy, I’d have rise above the negativity. I had to be able to lift myself out of the mud – the purely physical world of matter – and step into Einstein’s quantum world of energy where happiness, joy and satisfaction exist.

In times like these, where others are deliberately mistreating me, my job is to simply manage my own energies; to choose my thoughts carefully so that I can stay connected to my own joy. I remind myself that my satisfaction is my business.  My happiness is not dependent on another’s behavior. My happiness is dependent only on what I am thinking and feeling at any given moment.

If I want to be successful, happy and hold onto my joy, I have to remember that all I really want is to care for others. It does not matter who the person is who is standing in front of me – a patient, a family member, a nurse, a doctor or medic. It can’t matter how the one in front of me is acting. It can’t matter if the one in front of me is mistreating me. If I really want to feel powerful and be the cause of a new and better reality for myself and those I come into contact with, there is only one thing I have to do:  Use the key to my success and satisfaction.

This key to my happiness is simply remembering my uncorrupted pure and simple desire to care for others. Care is the blend of benevolent thoughts and energies that I give to the one in front of me. Remembering this key connects me with my passion for care. My job then, in these defining moments, is to transform my energy and align it with my desire to care, and then give my care to the one in front of me so they can feel my empathy, understanding and compassion at work. I am successful when I make them feel heard, let them know they matter, that I want the best for them, and that I am willing to work to improve things as best I can.

In connecting to my desire to care for others, my work is more than just to provide an intellectual solution or immediate relief for their discomfort. My job is to manage my own personal energy, my thoughts and emotions, regardless of what is going on in my physical environment, what they are saying to me or how they are treating me. When I do my job, things will change for them. They will feel that they have been heard and that I know they matter. They will feel that I want things to be better for them. They will relax, exhale, and maybe even smile and, in the process, I will feel better too.

This is the only way that I can be the cause of my own satisfaction, rather than the effect of another’s bad mood or situation. The only way I can feel powerful in my work, each and every day, is by taking the responsibility to be the cause of my own happiness, joy, personal fulfillment and success. By remembering that this is what I came here to do, to care for others, I can remember to focus my energy to demonstrate my care. This is how I will be able to be the cause of a new and better reality for myself and for those I came here to care for.

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

Last night, I was working with one of the happiest surgeons I know.  I was warning him that the patient he was about to see was not so nice – angry actually – even confrontational.  I told him not to take it personally and he said something I hope I will never forget.  He said: “No problem, I haven’t taken anything personally since the sixth grade.”  Therein lies the key to his happiness.

Our real work is to remember that to feel truly satisfied, happy and successful at work and in life, it can never be about me, it must always be about the one in front of me!

Today and every day, remember the key to your satisfaction lies in aligning yourself with your uncorrupted desire to care for others and using that pure energy to respond to the person or situation in front of you.  This will make you both feel good!

All the best!
Dr. Frank

Quantum Care

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 August 31, 2011 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 4 -LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding. Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.


Intimacy may not be an easy thing to create between two people, but if we really want to feel good about who we are and what we do in our world of modern healthcare, we need to do the work to get intimate and get real with our patients. It is the only way for us to feel satisfied at the end of our workday. -Dr. Frank

Quantum Care

“All intimacy is rare – that’s what makes it precious. And it involves the revelation of one’s self and the loving gaze upon another’s true self – that’s what makes it so damn hard.  Intimacy requires honesty and kindness in almost equal measure (a little more kindness, I think), trust and trustworthiness, forgiveness and the capacity to be forgiven…
It’s more than worth it – just don’t let them tell you it’s bliss.”
-Amy Bloom

We are all looking for satisfaction in every area of our lives. For those of us who work in health care, creating satisfaction means acting on our simple desire to care for others. We came to these jobs because we followed our hearts. We wanted to care and make a difference.

Care, like love, is an energetic commodity. It can be found in the realm of the unseen and the intangible. Care exists in Einstein’s Quantum world where the laws of quantum physics apply. That is exactly why True Care is so powerful.

Care is both a noun and a verb. As a noun it is a blend of thoughts and emotional energy that we share with our patients. As a verb it is a process that generates the healing energy that makes a difference.

In order to create satisfaction for our patients and ourselves we have to move step-by-step through the process described by Father Henri Nouyen:

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

  1. Get Present. Focus on the hurting human in front of you.
  2. Connect with them on a personal level.
  3. Put their needs in front of your own. Make them the most important.
  4. EMPATHIZE. Feel their pain until it actually hurts. Sit with that pain until you feel a shift for both of you.
  5. Turn on the COMPASSION.  Connect with your desire to make things better for them.

When we do this, all of the dopamine rich centers in our pre-frontal cortex light up and we feel “amazing.” When we share a moment of humanity, when our patient realizes that we truly want the very best for them, they will feel amazing as well.

This simple process is one of the few WIN-WIN’s readily available to us these days!  Intimacy is required in all the steps of the True Care process. Intimacy may not be an easy thing to create between two people, but if we really want to feel good about who we are and what we do in our world of modern healthcare, we need to do the work to get intimate and get real with our patients. It is the only way for us to feel satisfied at the end of our workday.

TAKE ACTION

We as care givers feel called to this work because we really want to care. Our desire to care is built into our DNA. The only way we can feel satisfied and get that feel-good rush of dopamine in each of our encounters is to engage in Father Henri’s recipe for True Care.

Go ahead, make your day, and indulge in a little dopamine rush!  Do it for you!

Do Your Best to Feel Your Best, Always,
Dr. Frank

The Antidote for Anger

SOS CLASSIC - The Antidote to Anger

What makes a person angry? One word: Entitlement. And guess what actions are the antidote to anger? Being of service to others! — 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 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding? Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.

Originally published June 8th, 2011

The Antidote for Anger

This week, we’re going to take a look at “happy’s” polar opposite:  anger. Anger is the most powerful of all negative emotions and if we don’t find a way to let it go, it can ultimately consume us and destroy every aspect of our lives from our relationships to our business and our health.

What makes a person angry? One word: Entitlement. When we get angry, we are basically saying, “I deserve to receive, no matter what,”  It means that we feel like things should go our way, without taking the responsibility for making it happen.

Generally speaking, we have the greatest amount of anger in our lives in those areas where we receive the most without really earning it. For example, if we get angry because we feel we are not being treated with respect, it’s an indication that people are probably treating us with respect all the time, but we don’t really deserve it because we haven’t earned it. We get angry when we only notice what we feel we are not getting.

Just like happiness, anger is a choice. Now, we cannot choose what thoughts enter our heads, but we can choose what we do with those thoughts and how we act on them. Our actions are always our own to choose. We can either yell and scream or we can decide to take a proactive step to deal with our anger.

And guess what actions are the antidote to anger? Being of service to others!  By doing what we do each and every day – providing care for our patients – we have unlimited access to the vaccine that can cure us from anger.

It’s all about you

How does it work? Well, if anger stems from feeling entitled to something, then we must connect to the process of earning what we felt entitled to by putting others needs before own. For example, if we feel that we are not being treated with the respect we think we deserve for what we do, we need make the effort to treat others with respect, while we are doing what we do.

This requires us to be humble. When we take responsibility for each and every situation in front of us and ask ourselves, “How can I make this better?” we activate our humility. When we put others needs before our own, we feel like there is always more we can do, that our work is never done and that we don’t need that pat on the back, the kudos or credit for a job well done. By just focusing our efforts on making things better for others, we won’t feel there is anything to be upset about. This is how we engage in our true purpose of caring and disengage ourselves from our anger.

Our patients and co-workers actually give us the opportunity to do the heroic, to make a difference, and change the world.  When we humble ourselves, when we make the other person, the one we are caring for, more important than ourselves, we change the polarity and flow of the energy in our system. When energy is flowing out through us, we naturally feel good. Anger disappears!

This is why we like to care for sick patients. Caring for others makes us feel good, satisfied and happy. It is also why every time I write a discharge note, I start with, “Thank you for allowing us to care for you today…”

TAKE ACTION

Is anger wearing you down? Indulge in some humble pie. Let go of any “what about me?” thoughts and make it about them. When you make others more important than yourself, you are actually caring for yourself. The kindest thing you can do for yourself is to make sure you practice truecare.

Today, make it about somebody else and make both your days!

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

 

Care versus Cure

SOS CLASSIC Care versus cure

When we include true care to what we already do, we connect with the supernal and are lifted from the mundane. We have more. — 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 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding? Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.

Was that it?

During the clinical encounter, I believe it is possible for us to do all the right things and still totally forget the intangible ingredient our patients expect: care. This disconnect is what leaves our patients – and us – feeling flat and empty at the end of the experience. Yes, we asked the proper questions, we precisely determined the problem and took the correct steps to fix it. Sure, we did our clinical exam, ordered tests, interpreted them, gave medicines, wrote prescriptions, and generated very detailed discharge instructions full of legal disclaimers. So why, when the patient walks out of the exam room, are they still bewildered and confused asking, “Was that it?”

What our patient is really wondering is, “Where is the care I came for?” That’s when we get confused. We think, “But we gave it to you.”  We delivered the x-ray, applied the splint, prescribed the pain medicine, and gave you the phone number to make the follow-up appointment with the specialist.  What do you mean, “Was that it?” We did all sorts of “things!”

Herein lies the frustration on both sides of the stethoscope.

Let’s face it, when a health crisis threatens one of our patients, they may feel helpless or even hopeless. Their minds race with hundreds of questions and worst-case scenarios. It is from this place that they come to the hospital for care. They want someone with more knowledge, more understanding, more resources and more power to understand what they are going through. They want someone they can trust, who has the wisdom and expertise to comprehend the entirety of their personal situation, not just their disease or injury. They’re looking for a friend who can empathize with them and offer advice.

But simply providing the proper diagnosis is not true care. Knowing the best treatment plan is not true care. True care has nothing to do with outcomes and measurable data.  It does not happen in the application of the mechanics of medicine. True care happens in the interpersonal interactions between the caregiver and the receiver of that care.

Our satisfaction lies in true care

If we really want to create satisfaction in our business, we must shift our focus from JUST the cure – the physical details of what we do, to include our care – the intangible, energetic, unseen spirit of good old-fashioned medicine. We need to make sure we focus directly on the hurting person in front of us. We need to see and feel their pain, try to put ourselves in their shoes and connect to our own true desire, which is to provide them with the care they seek. If we shift our focus to include giving true care to others, we will find that in that care lies all the best things in life:  kindness, happiness, abundance, blessings, peace, support, forgiveness, wisdom, knowledge, health, wealth and respect within the context of what we already do.

In the physical world of the tangible, when we give something to someone, we no longer physically have it. We have less. But in the quantum world of the intangible, when we share understanding with each other, when we give compassion, kindness, tolerance, empathy, hope, courage, or strength; we are amplified, we become more than we were before the giving occurred. When we include true care to what we already do, we connect with the supernal and are lifted from the mundane. We have more.

TAKE ACTION

Lift yourself out of the mundane by giving the best of yourself to another. By doing so, you will find meaning, purpose and personal power in what you already do. This is how you generate real and lasting quantum satisfaction for yourself and the person you care for.

Experience your personal power to change (y)our reality.  Give True Care.  It makes all the difference in the world.

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

 

E = MC2

SOS CLASSIC E=MC2

Make sure to include the art of medicine in your encounters by connecting with your patient with kindness and compassion. Although practicing medicine requires us to focus on the matter, it is when we make the effort to also focus on our energy that we truly create a change for the better for those we care for and ourselves. — 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 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding? Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.

 

Originally published March 30th, 2011 (edited)

E = MC2

One of Einstein’s great realizations was that matter and energy are actually two forms of the same thing. Everything we experience on a physical level is categorized as either energy or matter. Matter can be turned into energy and energy into matter. Anything that is not matter is energy.

The science of medicine is concerned with matter and anything we can measure. But the art of medicine is all about energy – those immeasurable things we cannot see, touch, taste, smell or hear. We practice the art of medicine through feelings, eye contact, and through what we say and how we say it. It is through the art of medicine that we create a flow of energy between our patients and ourselves that can reassure them, change their physiology, and make them feel better.

In reality, patients don’t come to us for the X-ray, the lab test, the diagnosis or even the prescription. They come to us because they have a problem and they want someone to care for them. If you think about it, most of our care is actually delivered in the energetic spectrum, not with the bandage or the crutch. It’s the same reason why a kiss from Mom on a bruised knee always works better than any band-aid.

Making an energetic connection

Sometimes, as caregivers we become so distracted by the material things and how to get them right that we forget to pay attention to the energetics in our human interactions. This is why our clinical world can sometimes feel cold, sterile and well, clinical. This is also why, even when we do everything right, our patients often can feel worse when they’re discharged. It’s because they didn’t feel our care in the process. After all, which would you rather receive if you were in trouble: emergency treatment or emergency care?

The way to fix this problem is really quite simple. The next time you’re with a patient, take just a moment to see and feel the hurting, frightened or anxious human in front of you.  Stop a second, step out of your ordinary routine, and consciously make an energetic connection with them. They will feel it. You will feel it too and find it easier to care for them. You will experience more satisfaction in the process of caring. By practicing the art of medicine, you will have an extraordinary day and the satisfaction you generate will be priceless… for everything else, there’s MasterCard.

TAKE ACTION

Make sure to include the art of medicine in your encounters by connecting with your patient with kindness and compassion. The practice of medicine is both a science (dealing with matter) and an art (dealing with energy). Although practicing medicine requires us to focus on the matter, it is when we make the effort to also focus on our energy that we truly create a change for the better for those we care for and ourselves. Now that’s satisfaction!

All the best,

Signature

Frank D. Gabrin, D.O

 

Victim or Victor

 

Shot of Satisfaction Classic

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 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding? Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.

 

Originally published February 24th, 2011 (edited)

A funny thing happened on my way home from work the other morning

Last week was a rough week. I wanted to complain (and you know how I feel about complainers – Whaah! Whaah! Whaah!). It was Valentine’s Day morning and I was alone. Instead of receiving chocolates, I got a toothache that turned into a root canal. I also had several challenging, extra-long days at work. But the icing on the cake came Friday morning when a block from my front door, I got a speeding ticket – my third in the past 12 months. As if the ticket wasn’t bad enough, the police officer managed to find my angry button and push it really hard!

This guy was smug, arrogant and disrespectful. He was totally uninterested in what I was dealing with at that moment. I thought to myself, if he came into my emergency room after being shot, stabbed, having a heart attack or suffering from a toothache, he would expect special treatment because of who he is. I felt I deserved the same. I was mad, I was angry, and I wanted revenge.

You spot it, you got it

We all want to be treated like we are special. In other words, we all feel entitled to human dignity. At that moment, I felt entitled. But, in midst of my rage, I remembered the words, “you reap what you sow.”  I realized if I wasn’t being treated with human dignity, there must be a place in my life where I’m doing the same and not treating others with human dignity.

That afternoon, as I prepared for my next shift, I came up with a plan to turn my situation around.  I decided, from that moment forward, to treat everyone I encountered with more human dignity. That night, before my shift, I ordered salad and pizza for everyone at work and brought it with me to the hospital. I went out of my way to treat all the staff and all the patients a little better than usual.  I spent more time at the bedside and did a bit more commiserating with my patients and their families about how awful it is to come to the emergency room on a Friday night.

Being the good

The truth is, I still gave everyone the same things I always give, I just added a little more of me. What a difference this made in my experience (and theirs!) of a busy Friday night in the ED. Everything just seemed to flow. I felt happier and more energized. Everyone around me was just a little nicer too. I even ended up staying a couple hours past the end of my shift to help out during a rush. What if I did this every day?  Would it even be possible?

Today, I am thankful for the disrespect that officer showed me. It gave me the chance to see where I was lacking and even disrespecting others in my life too. The whole experience ended up giving me the opportunity to transform myself from “Victim” to “Victor.”

TAKE ACTION

Add a bit more you into everything you do and look where you can give everyone you encounter a little human dignity. See how the changes you make are reflected around you!

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 – Help Me Please

SOS CLASSIC Help Me Please

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.

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 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding? Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.

Originally published February 17th, 2011 (edited)

I need your help. Please!

Is it just me or does it seem like there’s a global crisis every month?  If it’s not a weather catastrophe, it’s civil unrest, a terror attack, an epic health scare or something that has all of us glued to our TVs, laptops and mobile devices wondering what we can possibly do to help.

For those of us who work in the Emergency Department, we don’t have to look beyond our front door for a daily dose of drama. We know there’s secret to confronting the chaos.

When a crisis arises in the ED, we stop what we’re doing, we band together and we help each other out to solve the problem quickly and efficiently. In that moment, no one is thinking about the bills they have to pay, the vacation they’re planning, the argument they had last night, or the issue with their co-worker. Everyone is focused on the now, focused on the other person. In the midst of chaos, we work seamlessly together toward a shared goal with the absolute certainty that we can effect a positive change and save the day as long as we remain a team.

Crisis brings us together

When a global crisis occurs, it’s handled in much the same way. Everyone mobilizes.  Some head to the scene. Others organize local drives for food and clothing. Some raise funds to send aid to the victims. Each does their part, forgetting momentarily about individual needs. Through the pain comes a global sense of community and an urge to help.

Imagine what our world would look like if we acted this way every day? Sometimes I think these epic catastrophes are just wake-up calls to remind us that we’re all connected. We shouldn’t need another crisis to remind us that we need each other. No one gets through life alone. If we were to ask for help when we needed it and accepted help when it’s offered, we then could tap into this existing connection and the limitless possibilities for positive change and global and personal satisfaction it has to offer.

TAKE ACTION

Today, ask for help when you need it. Ask for help even when you don’t need it. Fight the urge to say: “I have this under control, I can do this alone.”  Instead, share with others by allowing them to be a part of the solution with you.

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 – Christmas Bells

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 December 15th, 2010

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 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding? Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.

 

Christmas bells those Christmas bells, ringing through the land, bringing peace to all the world and good will to man!

“The Baron had Snoopy dead in his sights.  He reached for the trigger to pull it up tight…  Why he didn’t shoot, well, we’ll never know.  Or was it the bells from the village below?  The Baron made Snoopy fly to the Rhine and forced him to land behind enemy lines, Snoopy was certain that this was the end…  when the Baron cried out, “Merry Christmas, my friend!”  The Baron then offered a holiday toast and Snoopy, our hero, saluted his host.  And then with a roar they were both on their way, each knowing they’d meet on some other day.”

— The Royal Guardsman

The stress of the holidays

Have you noticed how stressful the holidays can be?  Have you seen how your Emergency Department has filled up with angry complaints?  History seems to repeat itself every year…

“I’ve been waiting too long!”  “When are my CAT scan results going to be ready?”  “Can I get a sandwich?”  “I need a cigarette.”  “Do you have a Diet Sierra Mist?”  “Can I get a cab voucher?”  “What do you mean no narcotics?”  “I am allergic to Ultram, Motrin, Aspirin, Tylenol, Darvocet, Vicodin and reality.”  “I can only take Percocet.”  “The dog ate my paperwork and my prescription for OxyContin.”  “What do you mean, you only have graham crackers?”  “No chocolate milk?”  “What about my three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree?”

Think about all the repetitive conflicts we have with patients who we see as difficult and problematic.  Think about the one sentence they say that pushes your button every time.  Whatever it is that irritates you, enrages you, or simply rubs you the wrong way; realize that if you automatically react to it, you become the effect of that person’s problem.  But you don’t have to be.

The gift of letting go

This Christmas, give yourself a gift:  Become the Cause.  When you find yourself in another repetitive situation and you begin to react harshly, get annoyed, judge, want to attack or run away… just stop.  Don’t speak, don’t move and don’t judge.  Just let go of your opinion, let go of your need to be right, to make them see, or put them in their place.  LET IT ALL GO!  Sticking to your opinion will do nothing to help you or the person.

Let whomever it is complete their protest or explanation.  Let them talk until they have nothing left to say.  They are expecting you to react, to attack them, to tell them “no,” or to get angry.  Whether they realize it or not, they are trying to push your buttons and make you the effect.  Instead, take full responsibility for the situation in front of you by not being reactive.

Imagine this scenario. Think about a time you had to prepare for a meeting in which you were going to need to defend yourself.  Now imagine when you got to the meeting, your adversary looked at you and said, “I take full responsibility for this situation.  I am 100% accountable.”  When you see them take responsibility – especially when you were ready to be attacked – you feel relieved, you relax, and naturally you want to take responsibility as well.

Creating change

Taking responsibility for a situation is a tool you can use to become the cause, rather than the effect, in any situation.  After you let the other person rant, repeat what they said back to them.  Say it without judgment, without edits, without any spin and without offering a solution.  Simply hear what they had to say and repeat it in a way that it is clear to them that you just want to be certain you understand.

This will allow them to internalize what they said.  They may think to themselves, “Wow, that sounds ridiculous.”  They may go on and say, “No, that isn’t what I meant.”  In the process, they may start to see things differently for themselves.  Now you have created an opening. You are the cause of real and positive change.

TAKE ACTION

During the stress of the holidays, give yourself the gift that will help you BE THE CAUSE in any interpersonal conflict this holiday season. The next time you feel your buttons being pushed: Stop. Let it Go. Take responsibility. Stop and Repeat.

Be clear about the fact that you want to care. Bring some peace into the world and good will toward your fellow men and women.

All my best (*Remember there are only days left for you to get me a gift!) and happy holidays,

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

Cause Happiness

Shot of Satisfaction Quote

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.

  In this weeks Shot of Satisfaction video, Dr. Frank Gabrin, the author of Back from Burnout, shares with us how gratitude and appreciation can shut down negativity and boost happiness.

In this weeks Shot of Satisfaction video, Dr. Frank Gabrin, the author of Back from Burnout, shares with us how gratitude and appreciation can shut down negativity and boost happiness.

Step 4 – LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding? Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.

Cause happiness

The other day, I was working clinically and the department was busy as well as short staffed.  Almost everyone was complaining.   Some were complaining about their difficult, more challenging patients or their family members. Some were complaining about the high acuity and sheer volume of medications and treatments that were necessary.

A few were complaining about each other;  “That new grad nurse is so slow. They just don’t have the experience they need to do their job. That old battle-ax nurse is so lazy and he never helps anyone else.” Others were complaining that they hadn’t had even five minutes to get some food or use the rest-room.

The negativity bias

Complaining, and the negative feelings it generates, is as contagious emotionally as the common cold is physically. There are scientific reasons why negativity spreads so easily between us. Our central nervous system has been designed by six hundred million years of planetary evolution. Solutions to survival problems that were necessary for our ancestors, and those that preceded them (other primates, mammals, ancient reptiles, primitive life and even cellular organisms) are found within the anatomy and physiology we are born with today.

Survival of the individual, and the species, evolutionarily dictated that our ancestors be hyper-vigilant and on the look-out for danger, conflict and loss.  As a result, our brains evolved a “negativity bias.” This bias causes us look for bad news, react intensely to it and and then quickly store the experience in a neural structure so that if the same threat appears again, we will recognize it and react to it even more quickly and intensely.

It’s in our DNA

Todays science helps understand our two neuroanatomical systems that work together to cause us to be naturally drawn to the negative in our environment and amplify, or augment, our awareness of it:  The limbic system and the mirror neuron system. The limbic system is closely tied to our five senses and contains the amygdala – the primary danger detector for physical threats to our personal safety, like a saber tooth tiger up ahead in the clearing.

The MNS [mirror neuron system] is responsible for the process of mimicry. Our MNS gives us the power to know what others in our environment are feeling. This system is capable of recognizing seven universal emotions and is culturally blind. These seven emotions are anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, contempt and happiness. You might notice that only one of the emotions, happiness, is positive, hence the “negativity bias.”  Our MNS is constantly on the lookout for other humans in our environment who might be capable of harming us.

Because of these systems link to personal safety and survival of the human species, they are powerfully tied to our emotions and especially active when we feel threatened. The limbic system, the amygdala and the MNS work together to generate the experience we have all come to know as the “adrenalin rush” and the intensely automatic fight, flee or freeze response. These systems deal with the basest of human needs, survival, and is designed to let us know that someone dangerous just walked into the room.

We are running on default

As caregivers, we know first hand that we feel sad around depressed patients, nervous when we are around anxious or frightened patients and agitated or annoyed when we are around angry people. Mimicry, as a result of the MNS, automatically and unconsciously cause us to mimic or imitate the facial expressions, postures and voices of the people around us. Different expressions trigger certain moods, the same exact moods experienced by the person who just walked into the room displaying them. The process happens so fast that we have no cognitive awareness of the process.

These systems are buried deep within our brain and involve some of the oldest parts of our brainstem sitting right on top of our spinal cord. They can not be interrupted and we can’t turn them off. As a result we (humans) are naturally on the lookout for the “bad” in our immediate environment.

Negative experiences, such as those generated by a negative threat, generally feel especially awful. According to Rick Hanson, PhD, while our underlying bias toward negativity may be good for our immediate survival, it is very bad for quality of life, peaceful and fulfilling relationships and lasting mental and physical health. He goes on to say, “This negativity bias is the default setting of the “Stone Age Brain.” If we do not take charge of it, it will continue to take charge of us.

In other words, what Dr. Hanson is saying is that we will automatically see the bad in our environment, in our patients, in their families, and in each other. This is our automatic human operating system’s default setting.  As a result, the emotions that are generated by our limbic system actually cause us to feel bad, and we naturally begin to complain about feeling bad, and we begin to name everything that is wrong with our environment and those that we are in immediate contact with. This is lousy for quality of life let alone job satisfaction or engagement with our work.

It doesn’t have to be this way

It is not in our nature to actively look for the good in our environment or for the good in others. But have you ever noticed how happy we feel when a happy person enters the room?  This too is happening automatically and unconsciously as a result of our limbic system and MNS. The significant difference is that happiness, and our automatic emotional reaction to it, makes us better at almost everything a human can do; mathematical calculations, spacial perception, logical reasoning, physical strength, just about all of our capacities are enhanced or augmented. Not only does happiness make us feel better, we are better and we can do better!

What would it be like if we could find a simple way to be happy, at work?  By understanding how our MNS works in a negative fashion, we have the power to transform our experiences with others during our work day, especially when we are focused on generating the intangible thing called care. Awareness of our negativity bias and the effects of mimicking others through the unconscious processes of our mirror neuron system, opens the door for us to have more pleasure and satisfaction when working with patients, interacting with families and most importantly when interacting with each other. You are probably wondering how.

Fortunately for us, modern science has found an antidote for the experience of negativity we are complaining about at work and in life. Gratitude. It may sound corny, but according to Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky, science has proven that the practice or the experience of gratitude is incompatible with negative emotions and may actually diminish or deter such feeling as anger and bitterness. Gratitude dissolves negative feelings. It is hard to feel resentful or irritated when you are feeling grateful. The experience of gratitude or appreciation helps people cope with stress. Expressing gratitude bolsters self worth and self esteem. Better yet, gratitude and appreciating others actually makes us, happy.

Scientists are proving over and over again that the body and the brain operate much better when we are feeling good and are showing us what the specific costs are when we are not feeling good. Barbara Fredrickson tells us that “Positive emotions broaden our scope of attention, cognition, action and build physical, intellectual and social resources.

Activating happiness

So the trick is to recognize, when we are feeling cranky and frustrated, irritated or annoyed, that it is our limbic system and our MNS that brought us to this place automatically. With this awareness, we now have the power to change things for ourselves and others by using our free will to inject the antidote of gratitude into our system.  By understanding our unconscious physical and emotional reactions, we can consciously move into the feeling or experience of gratitude.

When we actively begin looking for something to be grateful for, we are automatically taking our limbic system, our amygdala and our MNS off-line through our effort to see the good in our environment and those around us. To activate our own good feelings, once we see one of our co-workers taking the high road or walking the extra mile to care for another, help a patient or a co-worker, we can go pat them on the back and let them know we took notice. We can ask them if there is something we can do to help them, we can help without asking or we can leave a short thank you on a post-it note and put it on their computer screen while they are in a room.

Be creative. There are countless ways to express gratitude. The last time we talked, I was so happy about the good feelings generated by the direct from the factory Krispy Kreme donuts I brought in to show my appreciation of my coworkers. Food is a great way to let those you work with know you appreciate them and the work they do. Look around, think about what you would like. The possibilities for showing appreciation to another are endless.

Gratitude changes everything

The take home point here is that, although it is automatic and natural to see the bad (it’s part of our evolution and our physiology), we have the power of free will to be able to change it. The negativity bias was very necessary in times gone by. Today, it totally wrecks our experience and diminishes our quality of life. At the very least our negativity bias steals our own happiness from us. We can stop it with simple gratitude.

Simple does not mean easy. It will take effort, heroic effort actually, to actively look for the good, especially when we are feeling let down, under-appreciated, taken for granted, taken advantage of, miffed, irritated or angry. But once you do, with the good feelings gratitude generates, this instant antidote for our uniquely human condition will energize and empower you and those around you.

We don’t have to be anything less than happy and engaged at work when there is a tool we can use to instantly make ourselves and our co-workers feel better. By using our free will to activate gratitude, we stop experiencing the effects of our negative bias to our environment and start becoming the cause of something better. Consciously establishing the feeling of gratitude within ourselves and then making an action of appreciating another causes us both to feel good, feel better, feel happy almost instantaneously.  There is not much more powerful medicine than that!

TAKE ACTION

Look at your mood and ask yourself, are you the cause of something better or the effect of another’s bad day or foul mood?  Ask yourself if your limbic system and MNS have drug you down into the mud?  Most likely you will realize that you are not feeling well and at the very least you would like to feel better.

As simple and as corny as it is, make the effort to actively look for something good someone has done to be thankful or grateful for. Next, take it one step further and actively appreciate them by using your creativity to find a way to acknowledge them publicly or thank them personally more subtly.  There is no right or wrong way to appreciate, it is just important that we appreciate each other!  This is the sort of care that is simple, practical, and extremely effective!

Care, make a difference and change (y)our world-

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