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Managing the demands of professional life

  • Jamie Dickey (a1) and Ross Ungerleider (a2)

Abstract

Our review summarizes the thoughts we shared in presenting the 8th annual Daicoff lecture. It is fitting, therefore, to begin with a few comments about George Daicoff. One of us (RU) first met George at a meeting, which might have been the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association. He was very kind and gracious, and made me feel welcome. We would like for each of you now reading this review to think, for a moment, of when you have had an experience like that from someone you didn’t know well, and how it made you feel comfortable, and that maybe you “fit in.” George, we thank you for that memory. Our field needs more graciousness. As all of us function in our everyday world, we should remember that we never know when our acts of graciousness one to another will be remembered and acknowledged. Our review summarises five concepts that we have found helpful in our work with similar groups of busy professionals.

The first is mindfulness, sometimes referred to as being conscious of the present moment. It is an irony of the training of health care professionals that we are constantly being directed towards a future focus. We readily don the blinders of a professional life that keeps us focusing on what lies ahead. Although some element of this is essential for professional success, we run the risk of missing out on the richness of our everyday experiences. The second is intentionality. In our work with busy professionals, we have found that so many have drifted into the automaticity of patterned responses. This gets us in so much trouble because we forget that we always have choice. The third is mindsight. This is about empathy, and the ability to connect to the experiences of others. Mindsight is about connecting to our differences. The fourth is forgiveness and shared meanings. It is important to practice forgiveness, and to create shared meanings in relationships. These processes allow us to reconnect to people who have hurt, disappointed, or angered us. When we don’t forgive, we create toxic relationships, both with ourselves and with others. It is the heaviness of resentment that prevents us from being at ease. The final concept concerns management of stress. We should learn to recognize when we are stressed. We cannot manage what we don’t know. It is our belief that attention to these features will help you better manage the numerous demands of your life.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Ross Ungerleider MD, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, DC 8 South, Portland, OR 97221, USA. Tel: +503 418 5443; Fax: +503 418 1385; E-mail: ungerlei@ohsu.edu

References

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Keywords

Managing the demands of professional life

  • Jamie Dickey (a1) and Ross Ungerleider (a2)

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