HOW I FOUND MY RHYTHM WHEN THE MUSIC STOPPED

At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.

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THE MAN IN A BLUE SARONG

I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.

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PATIENT “OWNERSHIP”

I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.

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For many physicians, the question is not “if,” but, “when” you will experience burnout.  A recent systematic review and meta-analysis of physician burnout published in Lancet in 2016 estimated that about half of the US physicians will experience burnout.  Of the many possible strategies proposed to mitigate burnout, hobbies offer an opportunity to recharge your body.  Although many of us have little time to dedicate to hobbies, they do provide many benefits that outweighs the time they require.  I asked one of our LMS members, Dr. Larry Cunningham to share his hobby.


Dr. Larry Cunningham, an oral surgeon, took me to the Bluegrass airport to show me his plane.  He admitted that he initially learned to fly because his father and uncle were pilots.  “It was just a cool thing to do,” Dr. Cunningham commented.  He continued, “Once you reach your 40’s, the stamina erodes and you realize that you don’t want to do this [surgery] all the time.  I fly to escape, leaving it all behind. Flying makes me feel powerful. It gives me the freedom to travel, independence.”


Flying a plane is not a stress-free situation.  “Although I still have to be laser-focused while flying, there is no one up there.  It’s peaceful,” Dr. Cunningham shared.  He acquired his pilot’s license in 2005 and reported that he takes a trip at least once per month, often taking the entire family on trips.  

BY TUYEN T. TRAN, MD


TUYEN T. TRAN, MD

Tuyen Tran, MD emigrated from South Vietnam after the war. He completed his undergraduate in biology/chemistry and medical school at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in a six year program. His is currently boarded in internal medicine and addiction medicine.