3 minute read. Original post available here
As I was talking with one of our medical assistants (MA) after a visit she helped interpret for, we both agreed, “its good to get a win.” One of my favorite parts about spring is the intentionality that graduation and orientation season brings to reflect on the past year, particularly, “the wins.”
During a final didactic with our graduating doctoral interns/fellows, we end with a gratitude exercise that prompts reflection of good/bad, uplifting/draining, healing/suffering, moments throughout the past year. We then go around the room and share what we feel comfortable sharing, with the focus on naming people and experiences that promote gratitude.
Tears, emotions, all the above fill the room and maybe the greatest “win” outside of hearing all the genuine stories that are truly inspiring is that all of us in the room get to hold these experiences together. It’s a “win” in and of itself to be in that moment.
Then our new class of family medicine (FM) residents and behavioral health consultant (BHC) interns/fellows start the following week, almost solidifying the end of the previous cohort’s wave/ripple just to start another radical wave/ripple with the incoming cohort. We talk regularly with our new class about the importance of recognizing and sharing wins, and how when intentionally done can be healing, in and of itself.
When we become accustomed to celebrating and sharing these “wins,” as we tell our new trainees, our minds start to become primed to look for them, seeing them in places where we may have otherwise been blinded. Indeed, it is a “win” to just share “wins.” It brings us to center, it brings us present, it brings us to our values. It brings us to love.
And, as the MA and I discussed after our visit with a teenager that was doing light-years better than when they first started seeing us, even saying “look at me now… I’m proud of myself!” as she was describing her efforts to encourage her sister to come talk to a BHC, what a freaking “win” the totality of the visit was.
As the MA and I were talking about that “win,” my mind immediately went to the other “wins” from the clinic, from an individual who was trying to not use substances and get into our medication-assisted treatment (MAT)f program. As one could imagine, there was a tremendous amount of guilt and shame, as well as hardships, and, at the same time, somehow, someway, the individual was leaning in with us and looking for ways of moving towards her values.
Or a teenager that was hurting due to seeing their parent suffer through health concerns and was still willing to walk their dog and set a goal of spending intentional time with their family.
To a patient that had lost the motivation to engage in physical therapy while being in a nursing home and saying at the end of the visit, “I really like the idea of inviting what my mind is saying along for the ride towards what is important. I’m excited about that.”
And, then, back to the teenager the MA helped me with, who talked about how they are finally enjoying school and actually spoke in class for one of the first times, resulting in them making friends. Yes, it is good to get a win sometimes and often it is how much we look for them.
My mind, for some reason, doesn’t like this Story of Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) as much as the others. Maybe because it feels uncomfortable sharing these patient wins because it can sound “braggy and arrogant.” Which, to be honest, my mind predicts, is how sharing most wins feels, at least at the beginning.
Maybe it is because along with these wins are many “draining” moments, particularly recently. Which, again, maybe is the point of sharing wins to acknowledge that draining and being tired can happen simultaneously with wins; it may just rest on us looking for them… regardless, my gratitude, as always for this community where my mind predicts will show grace with the potential arrogance and truly join me in celebrating the plentiful amount of wins!