Rachel’s Blog

Some Thoughts on Stress and Calling

Those who do this work in medicine move towards situations that many others tend to avoid. When someone is in trouble or in need, especially someone a person doesn’t know, a lot of people tend to pull back or look the other way. But people who go into medicine have a different sort of response. We are magnetized into such situations, not because of what we know but because of something much older than our expertise, something that causes us to recognize that in times of need and trouble, we somehow belong there. I often wonder if this work is actually a calling.

When I teach, I often ask medical students and doctors: “How old were you when you first realized that the needs of a living thing — an insect, a plant, an animal, a human being — mattered to you?” “How many people were between the ages of 20 […]

May 2nd, 2012|1 Comment

How Change Happens

Some thoughts on how change happens:

Like most of us I am a passionate change agent. After all, who would spend a third of their life accumulating all that knowledge and skill if not for the hope of making a difference?  So it is surprising how long it has taken me to recognize the power of a simple story to make change.

I have always been a story teller. In the past this tendency was viewed by my medical colleagues as, to say the least, dubious. In Medicine a story is often dismissed as  “anecdotal evidence”, a sort of second class data far less relevant to a physician’s work than the outcome of a well designed scientific study.  “You only have the one example?” my colleagues would ask me when I told them a story.  “What you’re describing only happened to one person?  How important is that?” But over time I have […]

September 26th, 2011|1 Comment

Feely Hearts

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite moments in the Healer’s Art, ISHI’s national course for first year medical students. The Healer’s Art is currently taught each year at more than 70 medical schools around the US and the world. The course offers a safe learning environment for students and faculty to explore together personal experiences of service, compassion, calling, mystery, awe, heart-centered healing relationship and reverence for life — vital and daily dimensions of doctoring not often discussed in medical training.

During the second session of this five-session course at every school that teaches the Healer’s Art, there is a moment that makes a difference.  As students are preparing to break into small groups to share their personal stories of vulnerability, loss and healing; a basket filled with small, fuzzy, multicolored “feely hearts” is passed around the room.  Each little heart is handmade and no two are […]

July 19th, 2011|0 Comments

Some Thoughts on Healing

I am looking forward to using this blog to think aloud some of the thoughts I usually keep to myself and to hearing your thoughts as well. Perhaps we can think of this blog as a conversation in which we can remind each other of what matters and perhaps even heal one another.

So I’d like to begin with some thoughts on healing. In 1962 when I graduated from Medical School the goal of medicine was cure. Anything less was failure. But there is a great deal more to wholeness than the recovery of physical health and so much more to medicine than curing disease. Not everything can be cured. Fortunately cure is not the only successful outcome of our relationships to our patients. Over time I’ve come to think of physical health not as a goal but as a means that enables people to pursue what has meaning and value […]

August 16th, 2010|1 Comment