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Mukta Panda: Resilience of Health Care Professionals: Recharging through Relationships, Reflection, and Ritual

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Nuggets From Mukta Panda's Call

Last Saturday, we had the privilege of hosting Awakin Call with Mukta Panda.

Physician burnout, depression, and suicide are tearing at our health care system, which Dr. Mukta Panda has witnessed firsthand and sought to address for years as a physician and medical educator. As a mother, she has committed – and sometimes failed – to balance the personal with the professional. And as an immigrant, she has clung to the wisdom of her family and faith in the face of discrimination and fear. By weaving stories of patients, students, and colleagues with her own stories of belonging, she models how we can each thrive by creating community and self-awareness. "Ritual, relationships, and reflection are key threads in how I learned to thrive," Dr. Panda writes in her new book, Resilient Threads. Self-care and well-being of health care professionals is particularly relevant during this time, and Dr. Panda developed a new Oath to Self-Care and Well-Being to accompany the Hippocratic Oath.

Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...

  • Service is nothing, but using our innate gifts to bring out the best in others.
  • The only prayer I have for myself is that I never become a burden on anybody.
  • Resilience starts with a reflection of who I am.
  • You need to be able to listen to yourself in silence, but you also need to be able to create the safe space so that others can listen to themselves in silence.
  • To build this resilience, to go in and reflect inside, is painful, but when you do that, and you share that, you invite in others. It builds community.
  • "I used to start feeling that, gosh, if only I had this, I could do this. I always felt that I needed more to be able to achieve something. And then, finally, in community, in a non-medical community, actually, when we were talking, suddenly I had this feeling, I need to do with what is in my hands now. And affirming that I am enough."
  • Creating a safe space starts with asking, "How are you doing today? Do you have everything you need to feel safe?"
  • We try to humanize each encounter we have with each patient.
  • Grief is not a problem to be solved but a human experience that needs to be witnessed. ~Cynthia Li:  "The grief, we've approached it as a problem that has to be solved, but it's really this human experience that just needs a witness.  And what you said is so beautiful. I think it's incredibly hard for doctors too. We feel like we have to figure out everything and solve everything and to just not jump in, but just to be there with your presence and listening is really beautiful."
  • A lesson for me was sometimes not saying anything is enough...Sometimes silence speaks volumes, and just physically being there...just listening, because the grief is of different types and sometimes people unpack their grief in different ways. Just letting them know that you are there for them.
  • Normalize the human condition of not being perfect.
  • [In response to a question about the loss of human touch due to social distancing] Human touch is a form of connection that is very sacred. It begins as a baby, as a child, and we grow up with it...We have to be more intentional about connecting, and here is where technology really needs to be used to our advantage.
  • "It has to be a culture change. And unfortunately, we have to be kind to ourselves and understand that culture change happens at the speed of trust. You take steps forward, you take steps backward, but that doesn't mean we have to stop. It takes one person to build a community and promote this culture change."
Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!

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