Our family has an unofficial mascot—a little bendable Gumby doll. I have no idea where Gumby came from or how exactly we acquired him. He started out as a little game in which various family members move Gumby to different places around the house. When you find Gumby, you move him somewhere else where he awaits discovery by another family member. Over the years, we have adopted an unofficial motto that goes with our unofficial mascot: “Semper Gumby” (always flexible). As is true of numerous other healthcare professionals, flexibility is not my strong suit. I am really good at focus, goals, determination and persistence. Flexibility, not so much. So “Semper Gumby” is a motto for me as much as anyone else in the house. A reminder that flexibility is a necessary part of doing life with other people.

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I love the opportunity to write for CMDA on a regular basis. I always sit down at the computer and words flow out of my heart and out of whatever I am experiencing at that point in time. It has been a new experience to struggle so much with my blog entry this month. I have written four or five entries—and every single one of them is depressing and discouraging, and also very similar to the one I wrote on my last assigned blog date. I keep trying, and I keep coming up pretty empty. It’s only after attempt number four or five that it occurred to me to think about the emptiness itself.

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We are living in a highly polarized society. Disagreeing opinions have very little overlap, making compromise difficult. People talk more than they hear, and they hear more than they listen. People rally and argue and protest, but they rarely build bridges across the divides. Political candidates represent the extreme ends of their party’s platform, and those in the middle are accused of being weak on issues. Opinions on social media are strongly worded and leave no room for useful discussion. Family members have broken fellowship over the Trump v. Clinton election. Friendships are strained over differing definitions of social distancing. The world we live in is broken, and people are afraid. Fear, in fact, is the most insidious form of brokenness. It penetrates the very marrow of our character and changes our motivations. The values and ideals we hold dear are corrupted by fear such that we no longer act based on what we believe, but rather out of avoidance of what we fear.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

My 21-year-old son attends university in Scotland. Scotland is a beautiful country filled with some of the loveliest people I have met in my travels. They are warm, friendly and willing to help a stranger, even if you can’t always understand what they are saying to you. Those thick Scottish brogues can be difficult! Just sayin’.

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I sometimes feel pretty low. I might be the only one…but I’m guessing not. Emotions are a part of what it is to be human, right? So, I imagine all of us feel down at one time or another. For me, the first couple of weeks after the holidays are always a down time. Something about coming off the merry-go-round of activity, fun, people, parties, food, drinks and general busyness, taking down the decorations and returning to real life. This year, those feelings were compounded by sending two kids back to college and then being in bed for a week with the flu (despite my flu shot!). What a return to reality.

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In medical school, were you taught to treat all patients with equal care and concern? Were you taught that it is unethical to discriminate against patients—refusing to treat someone or treating them less thoroughly—based on race, nationality, religion or even ability to pay? Were you taught to respect the beliefs of each patient, even while trying to explain how some of those beliefs might be harming their health?

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Photo: Pexels

Waiting…I’m terrible at it. My guess is I’m not the only one. In fact, among an audience of healthcare professionals, I feel certain the terrible wait-ers make up the majority. We are generally goal-oriented, focused, committed, get-her-done sort of people. Just the sort of people for whom waiting is an agony.

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Why Do You Follow Jesus? July 24, 2018

In this week’s blog post, Dr. Autumn Dawn Galbreath shares about visiting Poland, what she does to prepare for a trip to another country and how what happened in Auschwitz pushes her to think about suffering for Christ and her desire to pursue Christ above everything else.

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Finding Rest May 16, 2019

How often do you rest? If you’re anything like me, your answer is, “Not often enough!” Most of us are overwhelmed with things that can be outside of our direct control—a busy practice, a crashing patient, an EMR that requires 1,000 clicks per chart, a healthcare system that increases the RVU requirement every year or two, a prodigal child, a distant spouse. Of course, we have input into the things which we allow to fill our time. But very often, we don’t have control over them. Other people’s requirements and expectations place demands on us that are difficult to simply discard or ignore. And, as healthcare professionals, we are doing good. Our work benefits people. We minister to others in their times of greatest need. Good busyness is the hardest kind to fight because it’s easy to justify.

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Overcoming Isolation March 26, 2019

Drunk, rowdy, and foul smelling, he came into a busy clinic last night. He was roomed immediately to get the disruption out of the waiting room, but his volume penetrated the walls and disrupted multiple other clinic rooms. He had no ID, wouldn’t tell us his name and had no chief complaint.

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Photo: Pixabay

In this week’s blog post, Dr. Autumn Dawn Galbreath shares about a recent talk she listened to on ethics and sexuality, as well as how that impacts her daily practice of healthcare.

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The Lure of Money November 15, 2018

In this week’s blog post, Dr. Autumn Dawn Galbreath discusses the topic of money and how easy it is to compare ourselves to others and how much more money they have than we do. How does God call us to view our possessions?

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Family vs. Physician July 19, 2018 by Autumn Dawn Galbreath, MD, MBA

How do you feel when you have a patient who is also a physician? Or a patient whose close family member is a physician? I have been pondering this idea as I explained some medical information to several family members. In what ways can I be helpful to the situation, and where do I want to avoid making more work for the doctor caring for my family?

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An article crossed both my inbox and my Facebook feed this week entitled “Here’s Why Women Doctors Need Time Together.” It certainly wasn’t an academic study, but, as a woman physician, I was intrigued by the title. One sentence summarizes the author’s major premise: “There is an amazing power in gathering, shared experiences and decreasing isolation.” And I agree. When I watch my kids play sports or perform, I gather with other parents who share that experience—and we cheer as loudly as we can. When my marriage needs refreshment, my husband and I gather with other couples who share the experiences, both joyful and difficult, of marriage—and the isolation of our challenges is decreased.

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Sustaining Our Joy in Practice, September 21, 2017

Are you as a healthcare professional too harried, too rushed, too focused and too overworked to find true joy in your chosen profession? Not just happiness or contentment, but true joy. Dr. Autumn Dawn Galbreath discusses this topic in this week’s blog post for The Point.

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I am very much a can-do person—attacking the tasks in front of me with an astonishing willpower. We’re all like that, right? We wouldn’t have made it through medical school and residency otherwise! But when push comes to shove, I am not necessarily grateful or optimistic. I can tend toward the negative if left to my own human nature. In contrast, I know some people who just seem to have been born genetically positive and optimistic. They are resilient in the face of difficulty, always expect the best from every person or situation, and seem to have an easier time trusting God in their daily lives than I do. Maybe it’s just the outside appearance, but those positive people seem to enjoy life more than I often do.

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Photo credit: Francesc Padrós Casabella on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Excerpted from “Study: Doctor burnout may increase effect of biases on care,” UPI. January 13, 2016 — A national survey of doctors shows job burnout and personal bias have continued to increase in recent years, and researchers suggest the growth of both could affect the quality of care patients receive.

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Photo: Pixabay

That’s how I feel about my own life lately. I want to tell you that it has been a quiet week in the Galbreath household. But I’d be lying. I want to tell you that we never argue or complain or criticize or compete with those we love. But I’d be lying.

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Photo: Pixabay

I’m guessing (and hoping) that I’m not the only one…not the only WIMD-er who sometimes runs into identity issues with being a woman doctor/dentist…not the only one whose kids’ friends can’t remember to call her “doctor”…not the only one whose patients sometimes express their concern about whether or not I’m old enough or practiced enough (or male enough?) to take care of them…not the only one whose kids have been told by someone “only boys can be doctors.”

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