Behind the Curtain
Victor O. Kolade, MD (AIAMC Roles: Member of Board of Directors & Programming Committee)
Years ago, I thought reading books written by presidential candidates would give me a good window into who they were and help me decide if I wanted to support them; I was however unable to do so.
More recently, I found out that a former mentor, boss and GME leader had written a book – and jumped at the opportunity to read and review it. The book’s website presented it as a treatise on physician burnout; I did not realize that Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-being was Dr. Panda’s memoir until I had committed to review 1 it for the journal Family Medicine. Did I perceive a conflict of interest? Almost – but I am not mentioned in the book and no longer work with Dr. Panda. Nonetheless, I recognized several actors in the story – the author’s children included. (Full disclosure – I met Dr. Panda’s son Nik the day I interviewed for the position I eventually accepted; apparently, he put in a good word with his mother on my behalf.) I also worked directly with the two chaplains that Dr. Panda brought on staff to support inpatient and outpatient care through a grant 2.
What else did I notice reading the book? I had joined the author’s team when it seemed like her career was in launch mode – she had recently received an ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award, and was interim, soon to become substantive chair of the Department of Medicine. But the narrative in the book indicates she was in re-launch mode, having recovered from a season of despair through renewal at the retreat the ACGME sponsors upon conferral of the award.
Does the book address burnout? Yes. Dr. Panda talks about the weekly Relaxing, Rejuvenating, Rejoicing in Residency sessions (p. 117) that engendered positive coping skills in residents who attended at least three per quarter; I remember that these held on Thursday afternoons, and that sessions were also open to faculty.
What is actionable from this book? It has celebration as an underlying theme. Celebrate the things that are going well around you - family joys, trainee and colleague successes, grateful patients. Finding the good is a feature of resilience.
AIAMC members will be glad to note that Resilient Threads has mini reviews in its opening pages from past AIAMC plenary speakers including Dr. Vineet Arora of the University of Chicago and Dr. Don Berwick, IHI President Emeritus. I can hear Dr. Berwick’s written review in his own voice - ‘We need a holistic approach to individual courage and institutional change, and Dr. Mukta Panda shows us how it can be done.’ In Dr. Panda’s spirit I am celebrating that this phenomenal woman is my mentor and friend.
Kolade VO. Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-being. Family Medicine 2022; 54(2):153-4. https://journals.stfm.org/familymedicine/2022/february/br-feb22-kolade/
Cunningham CJL, Panda M, Lambert J, Daniel G, DeMars K. Perceptions of Chaplains' Value and Impact Within Hospital Care Teams. J Relig Health. 2017;56(4):1231-1247. doi:10.1007/s10943-017-0418-9
is Interim Co-Chief for Quality, Wellness & Research, Sayre Internal Medicine, The Guthrie Clinic, and Clinical Professor of Medicine & Regional Clerkship Director for Internal Medicine, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.