Shifting My Mindset

by Emily Miro, MD

As I near graduation, I have found it more and more challenging to feel excited about work.

It’s easy to think of all of the things that make our jobs difficult. The breadth and depth of issues we see in clinic as family medicine residents often feels nearly impossible to skillfully manage. The hours are long. We all have encounters that take more from us than they give. But, unsurprisingly, dwelling on these things doesn’t make the days go by more quickly or give me more enjoyment from my job.

So, instead, I’m trying to shift my mindset. I am trying to cultivate practices that will allow me to continue to feel fulfilled by my job. While allowing space for the challenging encounters, I’ve created a goal to actively reflect on the positive experiences I have had recently.

Here are some examples from my past month:   

  • I met with one of my continuity OB patients who is now in her 3rd trimester. Her husband recently interviewed for a job in the town I went to college in, and we’ve spent a lot of time talking about their future plans at her prenatal appointments. I love that I get to follow along as they navigate this new chapter.
  • I worked a string of night shifts at our local community hospital that happened to fall over St. Patrick’s Day. Over the last 2.5 years, I’ve been at that hospital for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and now St. Patrick’s Day. For every holiday, nursing staff plans a pot luck with more than enough food, and always invite the residents to eat with them. It always makes my day. My favorite part of nights this month was sharing corned beef, potatoes, and cupcakes with the ICU team at 1 AM.
  • I’ve been on an endocrinology elective this month and recently met with a teenage patient who has a relatively new diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. He has been navigating his insulin regimen and managing his classes remarkably well. I didn’t sign up for an endocrinology elective because I enjoy endocrinology – I asked to do this rotation because endocrinology is hard. I felt so proud of this patient for accomplishing what I know can seem insurmountable to many patients. I also felt really proud of myself as I realized I know a lot more endocrinology than I give myself credit for.
  • While on overnight call, I helped a new mom navigate how to care for her febrile baby. They didn’t need to go into the hospital yet, but I talked her through ED precautions and Tylenol dosing. It felt really special to be able to help her navigate a situation that gave her a lot of anxiety, but left her feeling empowered and prepared.

When reflecting on the positive experiences I have had over the past month, I am able to start to shift my mindset from “Dang, that was a tough month – two more weeks of nights, overnight call, endocrinology….” to “Honestly, I’ve had a lot of really valuable experiences this month, even though I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to it.”

My advice: make it a point to actively reflect on positive work experiences, while allowing yourself space for the negative ones. Acknowledge that negative encounters have a habit of staying in the forefront of your mind, and then actively give the good encounters some room to linger. By cultivating a mindset of focusing on positive aspects of our jobs, I hope we both continue to find value and fulfillment at work.  

Dr. Miro is from Hillsboro, Wisconsin. She received her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin. She spent a wonderful year with AmeriCorps in Laytonville, California, teaching health classes and connecting community members with health resources, before moving to Phoenix for medical school at the University of Arizona. She completed a Masters of Public Health while at the U of A. Her medical interests include sports medicine, public health, maternal-child health, and community outreach. Outside of medicine, she loves trail running, hiking with her partner Paulo and cute pup Bodhi, and having only moderate success with new baking experiments. While on the interview trail, she fell in love with the University of Utah’s perfect mixture of academic and community medicine, friendly and supportive faculty and residents, amazing sports medicine opportunities, and unparalleled access to the outdoors!

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