After the graduations of my 2 favorite people this weekend, I’m left with a ton of questions. Do we have a reason for clouding the excitement and accomplishment of graduation with expectations for the future? Do we know why we put so much pressure on what’s next rather than enjoying the present, celebrating the past, or even recognizing all that someone has already accomplished? I went to dinner this weekend and witnessed a waiter explicitly (and judgingly, I might add) asking a graduate if he had a job lined up after graduation. Why? Only God knows. Maybe I’m a little fired up because this particular graduate is extremely close to me and we’ve discussed this topic before. We as a society have to change this.
Physician burn out is at an all time high. It’s understandable when we are asked at high school graduation about our college plans including majors, at college graduation about medical school plans including specialty, at medical school graduation about residency and even fellowship. It’s obvious that we haven’t found a way to be present in the present. How can one be mindful of the flowers laid at his feet when the concentration is placed upon those in the next field over? Neither of my favorite people are medical students. One happens to be jet setting on year filled with traveling the world, experiencing new cultures, and building his CV in a very non-traditional yet very practical way. The other has no plans of making any major changes right now, just living life and working knowing that she fulfilled a life long goal. Neither of them deserves to have their day colored in society’s expectations nor do any other graduates, medical student or not.
So world, with your graduates, let’s try the celebrating their accomplishments approach. Can we find a way to live life in the slow lane, even if it’s just for the few hours that they get to let it all sink in? Just as we as future physicians must find balance to prevent burnout, we as a society have to stop thinking about what’s next and start appreciating what is now.