What Your Patients are Hearing

Viral tweet leads to physician backlash, #ThisISMyLane


When the National Rifle Association responded to an American College of Physicians position paper updating its policy on reducing firearm injuries by telling the physicians to “stay in their lane,” the group got an earful on Twitter.

“Many of the Tweet responses relayed heart-wrenching stories of doctors caring for patients who suffered and died from gun shot wounds,” writes Forbes contributor Bruce Y. Lee, MD, an associate professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. “Some Tweets included pictures of blood-spattered scenes to emphasize what doctors have to regularly address.”

The NRA’s response to the ACP update led to the creation of the hashtags #ThisISMyLane and #ThisIsOurLane.

“We’re standing there every day seeing this carnage,” says Rebecca Cunningham, MD, an emergency physician at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on the WBUR radio show, “On Point.” Talking to families about gun safety is “absolutely in our lane.” Meanwhile, Dr. Cunningham, principal investigator of Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens, tweeted that 50 women die per month “by gun by intimate partner.”

The twitter account @ThisIsOurLane, described as a group of “medical professionals who care for #GunViolence Victims,” currently has more than 26 million followers.

Japanese concepts offer perspective

Western culture is fueled by immediacy, and as a result, life can feel askew.

“We’re living in the busiest time of history of humanity, and we often do not have enough time to get everything done that we need to,” futurist and trends guru Daniel Levine says in an interview with NBC News. “The promise of technology was that it would handle our work for us and let us hang out more and relax, but the opposite has happened. Rather than helping us slow down, technology is forcing us to move even faster.”

In seeking another way, Mr. Levine cites “a countertrend against the barrage of tasks and technology that we are inundated with everyday. Patience is the other side of the coin of speed, and we’re looking more to [integrate] that into our lives.”

One step might be to take part in the Japanese tea ceremony of wabi-sabi. At the heart of the ceremony is the reality that things are not perfect but that the imperfections can be embraced to provide fulfillment. This attitude can extend to finding acceptance of personal imperfections.

Developing patience also is important. Again, drawing on Japanese culture, the philosophical outlook of Shankankan espouses the beauty found in a slower pace.

“Patience is the understanding that this is a long journey and you can’t rush the process, particularly in the Zen meditation tradition of spiritual ripening,” says author and yoga teacher Kino MacGregor.

Ikigai – self-introspection as to one’s true purpose – is the another pearl of wisdom from Japanese culture. “I think the Western idea of purpose tends to be very focused on what your profession and livelihood are and how to make money,” Ms. MacGregor says. “Ikigai is quite different. It’s about finding what you love and what the world needs. That requires patience in the sense that it won’t be revealed to you in one moment. You’ll need space and time for those answers.”

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