Colin & Sara
This week, we thought we would do something a little different than our usual insights related to physician well-being and the culture of medicine. We've decided to share a bit more about us and our journey.
Some of you may know 'Who We Are' from the section on our website, or through social media, or better yet, from meeting us in real life, so you know a bit about the people behind the newsletter. Others may be new here and know nothing about how we became so interested in physician well-being. Either way, we thought we would give you a shortened version of 'Colin & Sara' and update you on where we are today as it pertains to our Physicians For Physicians endeavor.
To start at our roots... Colin spent most of his formative years in Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), the beautiful small island on the east coast of Canada that has become synonymous with Anne of Green Gables; Sara was also from the east coast having been born and raised in Saint John, New Brunswick. We both completed our undergraduate degrees at our ‘home town’ universities before serendipitously meeting during the first day of orientation week of medical school at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario in 1994.
Our four years at Western were filled with the usual medical education experience - anxiety, overwhelm, stress; mixed with scattered moments of confidence and purpose. We don’t overlook the benefits of having one another as a source of support and understanding during our training. It was certainly a shared experience. We got married after second year of medical school and were in the couple’s match for residency. We matched together to our first choice in Calgary - Psychiatry for Colin (whole other story as he switched into Radiology) and Family Medicine for Sara.
The next five years from 1998 to 2003 are foggy at best. We found out how sleep deprivation can impact your overall well-being, but as we always say, age was on our side. During Colin’s five year residency, we had both of our children - our son was born during our second year of residency for both of us, and our daughter was born after Sara started working and during Colin's fifth year of residency. We never thought we would leave Calgary until we had kids and found the commuting and lifestyle to not be ideal for us. So, off we went to Charlotetown, P.E.I., in the hopes of a calmer way of life and medical practice.
As you can guess, our Pollyanna version was replaced by a healthcare system trying to keep pace with both economic and manpower issues. We loved the people, and Sara had some great clinical and non-clinical roles in the 5 years we lived and worked in P.E.I., but Colin’s professional life was starting to change into something not sustainable. In retrospect, we now know he was starting to show signs of burnout, so any exit was welcome. Enter the western relocation to Red Deer, Alberta.
In 2008, we headed back to Alberta as Colin was offered a position that checked off many desirable boxes for a Radiologist in terms of call, holidays, and compensation. Of course, the flip side was the workload and the medical culture. We spent 9 years there and it was good to our family, but ultimately, Colin was suffering from full blown burnout. It wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle for him and the best solution was to create a long term plan that would focus on well-being over income. Enter our current life - Victoria, British Columbia.
In July 2017, after some intense four year long planning, we moved to gorgeous Vancouver Island, to the capital city of Victoria. Life isn’t recognizable, and of course has had it’s challenges along the way. Our daughter started grade 10 here and our son started his first year of Science at University of Victoria - two major transitions for both of them. Currently, Colin is exclusively doing teleradiology, mainly emergency radiology for communities in Ontario, where he holds a license to practice. With this transition, Sara made the complicated decision not to pursue a clinical license in British Columbia. Instead, she's working in medical education and truly enjoys connecting with medical students and residents in a new way.
And that leads us to Physicians For Physicians. We started this venture in 2015, as a true desire to address physician burnout in our own way after seeing it unfold first hand in our own home. We started out with a vision of online courses and have evolved to where we are now - a social media presence, mainly on Twitter (but also on Instagram), creating content in this weekly newsletter based on the evolving landscape of physician wellness, creating information products (at a slow pace mind you) and responding to direct requests and opportunities based on the work we do.
We don’t view Physicians For Physicians as a money making venture (thankfully as our costs outweigh our revenue). Instead, we see it as a ‘passion project’ with the hope that we can make some real connection and contribution to our medical community. Our wheels are always turning and we definitely want to work towards offering some in-person opportunities in order to share stories, support one another, create solutions, and connect over 'breaking bread'.
Fortunately, we aren’t afraid of change. We're always re-evaluating and pivot when necessary. We’re grateful to have you in our community and always invite you to reach out. We look forward to writing the next chapter together.
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ~ George Bernard Shaw