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  • Writer's picturemichelledangmd

3 years later...

A little over 3 years ago, I started my Integrative Medicine fellowship program through the University of Arizona. This photo is from our first residential week in Tucson where I listened to Dr. Weil lecture on nutrition and the anti-inflammatory diet. The decision to pursue an additional fellowship was because I was burnt out with traditional medicine. I was working in a hospital system where I was pressured to see a certain number of patients and perform a certain number of procedures. There was also pressure to prescribe medications, or continue medications - particularly opioids - that may not have necessarily been appropriate. I felt like a hamster in a wheel and I knew that I had to make a change for my own mental health and wellness.

I distinctly remember sitting in the computer lab at the hospital in a 2 day training for our electronic medical record system - one that I had used for at least 5 years throughout residency and fellowship. Despite my experience with the system, I still had to go through the entire training. While I clicked through the modules and tried to pay attention, my mind was thinking of what else I needed to do. I opened up a Google search engine and typed in "yoga" and "medicine".

6 months later, I arrived in Tucson for my first residential week. It was almost exhilarating to be around 50+ like-minded health professionals. Everything was new, and it was humbling and overwhelming. But I felt so much peace there, learning things that I could utilize in my own personal life as well.

For the following 2 years, I looked forward to my residential weeks in Tucson. It was a time I could reconnect to myself. I am very much an introvert and need that time to myself to recharge. I still feel pressures of being that hamster, but I am learning how to incorporate more of an integrative practice. At the end of the day, I can see how much patients can improve on their own by utilizing integrative resources, and I can also counsel them on interventional techniques to incorporate in the management of chronic pain. This chart is what I go by when I talk to my patients about their pain. When you make it a discussion between you and the patient on what they are able to achieve, you are able to achieve so much more success in improving their quality of life.

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