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Glenn’s Welcome Address at 2012 Mountain Pose Medicine & Yoga Symposium

“Thank you Dr. Khalsa.

Good evening and Welcome! It’s a privilege and blessing to be with you.

I plan to speak for about 40 minutes or until I run out of oxygen, whichever comes first.

Seriously, first time experiencing altitude. I haven’t been this high since high school!

Last night I kept waking up every 30 mins gasping for air. Scary.

Took all the precautions. If I hydrated any more I’d need a catheter for this talk!

I know there are docs in the audience … I want to know who’s packing oxygen!

This conference was born out of Dr. Khalsa’s genuine concern for the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of her fellow physicians and healthcare providers. She’s acutely aware of how the overall health of providers affects patient care—and its impact on medical errors.

MDs raise your hand if you are truly content with your life—your career, family life, social connections and financial situation? Well, you are an anomaly. Here are some sobering statistics:

  • Research suggests that 1 out of 3 physicians has no regular source of medical care.
  • The suicide rate for physicians is over twice that of the general population.
  • An estimated 400 docs take their lives each year—the equivalent of one large medical school class!
  • And this disturbing cycle starts early—an alarming 15-30% of medical students screen positive for depression.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for medical students!
  • Physicians typically don’t seek help for stress-induced symptoms of burnout or other psychological issues because they feel obligated to appear healthy. They feel obligated to appear healthy!
  • Physician colleagues can tend to be chronically emotionally distant and may feel vulnerable themselves to have these important discussions with their peers.
  • Many physicians attempt to self-diagnose and self-treat with medication. Most fail.
  • According to studies, most docs believe seeking help from their state physician health programs will be shared with the medical licensing authority, jeopardizing their careers and insurance policies.

Sadly put, too many docs are neglecting their health, are burned out and unhappy. Many struggle to make behavioral change recommendations to their patients because they don’t follow this same advice for their own physical and emotional well-being.

But these are merely symptoms caused by underlying systemic problems such as:

  • Lack of substantive wellness and prevention education in medical school
  • Long and stressful clinic hours
  • Stress over reductions in payer reimbursements
  • And not least, the modern food chain and contemporary culture of sedentary, electronic lifestyles that adversely affect the health of patients and providers alike.

Dr. Khalsa’s personal mission, and the driving mission of this symposium, is to educate physicians and all allied healthcare professionals on the importance of self-care. And, importantly, through an accredited CME program that carefully considers the medical literature. She believes, as I do, that the best long-term solution to our healthcare crisis starts with behavioral change and self-efficacy at the provider level. In other words, if providers walk the talk by grabbing their own oxygen masks first, they will be healthier and happier—physically, emotionally and psychologically—and patients will be much more inclined to follow suit.

So why am I the chosen messenger? I’m not a physician. And frankly, I’m not as crazy, sexy or charming as my friend Kris Carr who delivered last year’s welcome. But when Dr. Khalsa asked me to address the subject of practitioner self-efficacy through the lens of my personal journey, I jumped at the opportunity … because change begins with the teacher. WE ARE ALL STUDENTS … WE ARE ALL TEACHERS! AND IMPORTANTLY, WE ARE OUR OWN BEST HEALERS!

Here’s my story of self-efficacy.…”




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