Yesterday, while driving home through Austin traffic after attending the TAFP CME conference, my mind began to wander to the Wizard of Oz.  I think perhaps I was dreaming of having ruby slippers that I could tap together and repeat: “There’s no place like home,” three times and find I could avoid the traffic!  But alas, my shoes weren’t red and I spent a long time in the car and had some time to ponder Dorothy’s friends in the context of being a physician.

The Scarecrow:  “If I only had a brain.”

Well, I am blessed to have the brain I have as a physician, but there are many pressures to stay up on the constantly evolving knowledge, research and information.  My bedside piles of journals to read (and i-pad filled articles) never get the attention I wish they did! … and even when I do, there is only so much attention I can give each thing at a time.  My brain is forever working, but I often wish it could work faster or know more.  Especially after leaving a Continuing Medical Education set of lectures, my brain was feeling quite full.

The Lion:  “If I only had courage.”

I recently heard a talk on Women’s Heart Health titled “Cheating Death” from a local cardiologist at the Go Red for the American Heart Association.  It highlighted that it does take a lot of courage to take on the responsibility of being a physician.  We deal with life and death in a unique way.  I’m feeling the call to courage even more now, as I begin my integrative medicine practice here in Austin.  It takes courage to build a practice and stand up for what you believe in.  I truly believe in a respectful, whole approach to each person’s health.

The Tin Man : “If I only had a heart.”

Sometimes, in medicine we wall ourselves off to protect ourselves.  And sometimes it is at risk of being less accessible even to ourselves.  Physicians can get on a road to ‘burnout” or “compassion fatigue.” I’ve been at risk of being there before.  I’m in medicine partly because of my heart, so I don’t want to lose it!

So, from the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 film, there are lessons and wisdom that entertain and reassure me on my long drive. Having an Integrative Medicine practice now in 2013 allows me to use my brain, my courage and my heart.  It allows me to wear my white coat and ruby slippers that make the journey a reality for me and for my patients.  Next time while stuck in traffic, I might just need to make a detour to the store and purchase a new pair of red shoes!