Values: The Key To ThrivingFeb 17, 2022
Written by Dr. Andrea Austin
What are your values? Seems like an easy question, but until about a year ago, I couldn’t answer that basic question. Since the age of 22, my life had revolved around medicine. I was either in medical school, residency, or in the military establishing my career in academic and operational medicine. At the age of 35, I made the decision to leave the military. As the transition to civilian life grew closer, I sensed the need for more guidance on this transition. I reached out to my mentor, Dr. Linda Lawrence for advice on how to navigate my new professional roles. I wasn’t even sure what I was nervous about, but my intuition guided me towards adapting a more deliberate process. Dr. Lawrence shared with me that she was a professional leadership coach, and after an initial conversation about what coaching was and how it may help me, I decided to proceed forward.
With medicine and the military, it often felt like I was on a treadmill in which I didn’t set the pace, the incline, or the destination. With both medicine and the military, there is a lot of hierarchy and requirements to get to the next step, whether that is to next year in residency or another rank. As I began this new phase in which I really had choice of where I worked and what I did, I started to feel uneasy. What do I want? Why do I want it? What really matters to me?
Values are guideposts in our lives that represent what is important. They can help guide us with making decisions in our lives. After a series of exercises and conversations with Dr. Lawrence, I defined my core values as:
1. Authenticity- interpreted by me to mean that I can be my whole self at work and walk in my values at work.
2. Innovation- my educational niche is simulation. I like developing and applying new advances. I feel drained working at sites that are slow to adopt advances in medicine and medical education.
3. Meaningful work- I am attracted to institutions that have a higher purpose, beyond delivery of care and profit. For instance, I like working with the military both clinically in the service of veterans and Active Duty, to support our country. I like working at a county institution that has a vulnerable patient community and that my colleagues are service driven as well.
4. Learning- I am a lifelong learner. I enjoy being a part of institutions and systems in which continued learning is encouraged and the culture supports it.
5. Autonomy- I enjoy having control over my schedule and independence in how I practice medicine and teach. I dislike working at places that overly rely on protocols and are inflexible and nonreceptive to advances in medicine and education.
It took approximately one year post leaving the military for my values to really become clear to me. I realized that my initial job selections were not aligning with my values. It was very challenging, and there was a lot of uncertainty. With an extreme focus on my values, I developed a new mix of work, that centers on my values and what fills my cup, emotionally and intellectually.
My new professional mix:
1. Educator- podcast host, facilitator, writer. Aligns with all my values! I get to do meaningful work, innovate, learn, in a way that allows me to be authentic and with autonomy.
2. Senior Lecturer for the Healthcare Simulation certificate program at the Naval Postgraduate School. Aligns with my values of meaningful work, learning and innovation.
3. Emergency physician, independent contractor at 3 hospitals including a military hospital, county hospital and community site. Aligns with my values of meaningful work, authenticity and autonomy.
The Revitalize Women Physician Circle and individual coaching can help you determine and refine your values. It doesn’t mean every day will be amazing or awesome, but on the hard days, you will have more energy to persevere, because your work is tied to your values. With this new arrangement, I went from surviving to thriving. Let’s talk about Revitalize! Please email us at r[email protected] to set up an individual consultation.