A Week in the Woods

It was a Fall day when it all suddenly changed. I had decided to spend a week at Breitenbush resort on a medical retreat led by Pamela Wible. The retreat came with a promise of renewal and leaving with a new vision of medicine. I spent time in seminars, talking to other medical professionals and felt like I belonged to this community of healers. These physicians were trying to find their joy of medicine that was lost somewhere along the way, for a variety of reasons. This was a chance to regain it.

We talked about the healers we wanted to be when we started our journey many, many years ago. I was an idealist. I wanted to help as many people as I could by simply listening to them. Then by applying my knowledge and training I could heal them. When I went to medical school, things weren’t so simple anymore. The long hours of studying, followed by 30 hours shifts at the hospital every 4 days, and constant testing were par for the course. However we weren’t expecting to be berated by our senior physicians in the process. Neither were we expecting to lose some of our humanity as a result. Those healers has been abused along the way and now they were abusing others. This continued into residency. After residency we believed things were finally going to be the way we had dreamed all along. But they weren’t and we were told to persevere.

All these experiences brought us to the woods that week. I was comforted in knowing the path others had taken was similar to mine. It was like sharing war stories. We were all harmed somewhere along the way. We were all here to heal ourselves so we could heal others better. 

I left the woods forever changed. I was finally given permission to be the physician I had always dreamed of. I could spend time with my patients. I didn’t have to maintain a “professional distance” to provide great care. I could be myself as a doctor.

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