Why am I here?

These last couple of days in Telluride have provided so much useful information, moving stories, and meaningful interaction. From lively discussions between residents to meaningful and gripping personal accounts, it’s been a flood of data, emotions and relationships, enough so that at first it seemed overwhelming! Today, however, in the afternoon session, something started to coalesce for me. That ‘something’ is the answer to the question, why am I here? In Telluride, in family medicine, in medicine at all, what is my purpose here? Thinking about that question has taken me on an introspective, reflective journey regarding how my motivations have evolved over the last 10 years.

When I initially decided to become a doctor I was driven by the heroic and not uncommon notion that I wanted to save lives. I pictured myself dramatically inserting some kind of tube in some orifice, shouting orders and being regaled as a hero (we can thank Gray’s Anatomy for this exaggerated view of the daily life of an average physician). As time went on and I became more familiar with my chosen field of family medicine, I realized that maybe it’s about something more, or rather different, from just saving lives. Working on QI projects in the last two years of residency, I’ve begun to see the importance of building and leading teams that make changes that save lives. Today, during a fabulous talk by John Nance, I had an “ah haa” moment. My motivation has subtly, without my noticing it, changed to an entirely new viewpoint. My drive is now to be part of creating a system that in and of itself builds the teams that makes change happen. I think if 15 or 20 or 30 years from now I can look back and say I was part of creating a new system of medicine that is inherently designed to recognize the need for change and act on that need, I will feel I’ve accomplished a great thing. Weekends like this with the inspiring leaders around me gives me a strong hope and firm belief that, together, we can create this world.

Here’s to making that happen, one step at a time.

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