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President’s Final Plea to Membership

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Take the Time to Tend to Your Needs

By MAOPS President Lee Parks, D.O.

As I near the end of my term as president of the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, I find myself with too many things to do in the time allotted. However, before moving onto the next chapter of my life, I feel inclined to pause, and share some advice with each of you that I often give to my patients, but sometimes fail to follow in my own life (as I suspect many of you also do). To the young single moms, the grandmothers raising grandkids and the breadwinners burdened by the demands of supporting a growing family on the wages of two part-time jobs, neither of which pay a living wage, my message is the same. I tell them this: “If you don’t take care of YOURSELF, you can’t take care of everything else.”

If we put off doing the things that keep us healthy and sane because, “It doesn’t matter, it’s only for me,” we’ll eventually LOSE our health and maybe our sanity. Not only are our bodies, as physicians, just as subject to the laws of nature as every other body, but the subliminal message we send to ourselves is that we don’t matter. To feel that one does not matter leads to depression, ineffectiveness, inability to sleep well and anger. As I think about the people I see at various meetings around the state, I know that many of them are at least as saddled by their workload, family and community responsibilities as I am. We are doers, givers, and we all work hard every day.

What concerns me is seeing and knowing how easy it is to become so busy that we forget to take care of ourselves. We, as physicians, easily become preoccupied with treating patients, and we often neglect our own needs. Instead of constantly treating patients with little regard for our needs, we need to carve out the time to actually be a patient. It’s imperative that we pay attention to our own risk factors for disease. We must set an example for our families, patients and colleagues of what a healthy life looks like, and display how to balance that life so we continue to be the kind of resource for improving the world that we have been in the past.

As I end my term as MAOPS President, I have one final request of the incredible members of this Association. I ask that you take a step back from your hectic schedules and make a commitment with me. Resolve to treat yourselves better, because you matter to everyone around you, even if you lose sight of that because you’re too busy caring for everyone else. Let’s do it together. Let’s agree that we’ll make a conscious effort to eat three well-balanced, unhurried meals a day, lose that extra weight, take time to exercise regularly, make memories with our families and friends and stop putting off those hobbies we use to make a priority.  Perhaps, most important of all, let’s commit to growing our spiritual side, whatever we each interpret that to be. I urge you all to please cast aside the notion that taking time for ourselves is selfish. As a profession, we spend our entire lives caring for the needs of others. We need to lead by example. Nobody should ever feel guilty about taking the time to tend to their needs. We owe it to ourselves and those whose lives we touch as physicians, friends, family members and as a member of our communities, to be the best version of ourselves we can be. This is possible if we take the time to stop, listen to our bodies, and realize that we matter as much as the next person. If we take good care of ourselves, we’ll become stronger, fresher physicians better equipped to help everyone else in our lives.

With love to my osteopathic family,


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