That Raw, Unfiltered, Grit in Your Teeth Connection

Besides being a family med physician, mom, wife and entrepreneur, I led women outdoor retreats that I so elegantly call “Women in the Wild” after my loving spouse refused to acknowledge Women Gone Wild.

Besides fun outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, camping, I also try to empower my participants by teaching them survival skills

Lucky for us in Indiana, there aren’t many bears these days so do you know the Number 1 thing that kills people who get lost out in the woods?


Exposure kills people a lot quicker than lack of water or food. But it’s not that people who get lost in the woods aren’t intelligent. The real underlying reasons that people die from exposure are:

Uncontrolled Fear & Loss of Hope

I see these exact 2 things in medicine too. And I’m not going to pick apart the multifactorial reasons of why but I do what to emphasize what you don’t need to survive in medicine and tell you what you do.

You don’t need more survival tips on how to make your schedule flow more efficiently

You don’t need Another tip sheet on shortcuts in your EMR

You don’t need Weekly e-newletters filled with motivational memes

You don’t need another yoga class to be late to

(By the way, total side note…you can’t use yoga solely to mitigate burnout away so any administrators that suggest yoga over system changes to me again might want to think before speaking with me.)

I venture to say what you really need to truly survive…yep…connection.

Not that surface level stuff. 

I mean raw, unfiltered, getting grit in your teeth connection with people who get you, accept you and relate to your experience.

These are the types of conversations where we take off our white coats and show the wounds we have. Because let me tell you, we are the walking wounded.

Think of that patient that you still continue to dream about 5, 10, 20 years later. Think about that diagnosis that when it pops up into your EMR gives you the shivers. Think about that person who you cared for and would do anything to change their outcome.

Don’t think you have wounds..we all do. And now is the time to start opening them up to the air, debriding them and maybe even placing a wound vac for those chronic ones.

This type of vulnerability that can only be accomplished in a safe space with people you can trust.

Though I love my spouse, he’s not a doctor. There’s something special about the title DOCTOR that though I may not know all the details…I get you. I know your road because it was mine too.

This type of connections helps you digest your fear to tolerable levels, because fear will never go away, and it helps foster hope to keep it alive, growing and burning within you.

Let me give you Some real life examples of this type of raw connection:

FIRST: Dr. Colin West at Mayo with his 2014 and 2015 COMPASS trials (COlleagues Meeting to Promote and Sustain Satisfaction)  he found that when small groups of physicians met in private settings and were given a protected hour twice a month for 6 months with a small food stipend of $20, they had Measurably lower burnout and social isolation, and higher well-being and job satisfaction.

NEXT: PMG Physician Moms Group created by Dr. Hala Sabry-Elnaggar now has over 70,000 female physicians involved. It’s a safe place to talk about the lowest of lows and be supported to highest of highs and help celebrating. Some significant studies about female physicians and the many issues in medicine have come from this group. Many smaller groups have sprung from the main group to provide further connection and support. #Online friends are real friends too.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE: Locally in my area, I helped to form “Women In Medicine” group around the Vincennes area. We are a group of clinically practicing female physicians in rural Indiana and Illinois who decided we were tired of waiting for help. We knew we were all a little crispy with burnout (some were deep fried) and we wanted to help combat burnout and promote well-being. 

So we established this group to build relationships, find colleague-to-colleague support and provide a safe space to talk about the difficulties of being women in medicine. We met every other month at someone’s home or a restaurant or a local vineyard. Sometimes there are lots of laughs and other times we shed tears.

So I ask, where can you build connections in your life?

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Errin Weisman DO

Errin Weisman, DO is the self-proclaimed wellness guru on Authentic Medicine. She is a life coach, podcaster and fierce advocate for wellness in medicine. She faced professional burnout early in her career and speaks openly about her story in order to help others, particularly female physicians and working moms, know they are not alone. Dr. Weisman wholeheartedly believes to be a healer, you must first fill your own cup. She lives and practices life coaching and medicine in rural Southwestern Indiana, loves her roles as farmer’s wife, athlete and mother of three.You can find out more about Dr. Weisman on her podcast Doctor Me First, her website or hang out with her on social media @truthrxs. Her podcast is “Doctor Me First”. 

  6 comments for “That Raw, Unfiltered, Grit in Your Teeth Connection

  1. Steve O'
    December 15, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    In order to keep employees in control, they must be assigned something that they are unfamiliar, and incompetent at. Their entire worth to the business is measured on these sorts of tasks. Burnout is the challenge of living on the edge of failure in some area you are unskilled at. This is deliberate.

  2. Sir Lance-a-lot
    December 15, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    “There’s something special about the title DOCTOR that though I may not know all the details…I get you. I know your road because it was mine too.”

    I don’t want you to think anything I write refers to you, personally, Dr. Weisman, as you seem to be a genuinely nice person who really wants to help others, but:

    Discovering that someone I encounter in a non-medical situation is a doctor will make me get away from that person as quickly as I possibly can.

    I can’t say anything about any “roads” without looking at a map, but, in general, I find that doctors are among the groups of people I will have the least in common with. They are also among the most pretentious, annoying, and untrustworthy people I tend to encounter.
    They will sell you out or drop a dime on you in a heartbeat, whether to your colleagues, your “leadership,” or your medical board, and are the absolute last people I would feel “safe” (a horribly misused word in the view of those of us who’ve been shot at or shelled) being honest or open with in any way. Most of them have a stick inserted to the level of their splenic flexure and are so full of themselves that they are incapable of meaningfully empathizing anyway.

    I am glad that you found some doctors you can share your experiences with, but I know that the moment that I open up to my colleagues is the moment that I find myself shopping for a new job… or career.

    I’ll sit in the corner, bitch about the minor crap, and pray that I make it to retirement or hit the lottery, thank you, rather than risk pauperizing myself.

    • Steve O'
      December 15, 2019 at 7:08 pm
      • Sir Lance-a-lot
        December 15, 2019 at 10:14 pm

        Awww. I wuv U 2, Steve.

        “you get what you select for”

        My point exactly. Medical schools select (aggressively) for compliance and docility, they do so in a number of ways (grades, references, and ability to jump through pointless hoops all measure rule-following, unlike objective measures like the MCAT), and they hammer it in during training through such age-old tricks as sleep deprivation and humiliation. Very few of us nonconformists manage to sneak through.

        The entire environment in which we work every day is evidence of their success.

    • Pat
      December 16, 2019 at 11:35 am

      Yes, this work is preferable to bankruptcy.

      And thankfully, I can usually avoid talking to other physicians when not at work.

  3. Art Gindin
    December 15, 2019 at 11:14 am

    I’m 85. I still think about those patients.

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