What Russian Dolls Can Teach Doctors

As I work with more and more doctors around the country, I am encouraged by what I am witnessing:

  • Doctors who completely left medicine, then returned later, refreshed and recharged.
  • Doctors who have slightly altered their original mode of practicing, discovered the parts of medicine they love most, then magnified them.
  • Doctors who have added and subtracted from their recipes until the unique flavor of their practice is perfect for them.

My mission is to help those of you who are sitting on the edge fall in love with medicine, again.

I know you still have a tiny glimmer of hope in your hearts.

  • You still believe there are subtle twists and changes that you can make to take the rough edges off.
  • You believe there’s still hope.
  • You believe you can make what you once considered an awesome job, tolerable and–on a good day–a great place to be, again.

How do I know? Because I have been there.

I’ve stood right where you are, looked at my practice and found a flicker of hope still burning.

I examined my hope with a magnifying glass, and it caught fire.


I learned the lesson of the Russian dolls.

When I was little, I had a set of Russian nesting dolls. You’ve likely seen these before. They are officially called Matryoshka dolls. The first set was carved in 1890.

Traditionally, the outer layer is a woman dressed in a long and shapeless peasant dress. The figures inside may be of either gender. The innermost, smallest doll is typically a baby turned from a single piece of wood.

What do these Russian dolls have to do with reigniting hope?

I believe they perfectly demonstrate how to shed what doesn’t work in our lives so we can look to what’s precious within.

As you open up and release the shell of what isn’t working in your life, you get down to the next layer of what is even better.

There’s a reason that the innermost doll is a baby carved from a single piece of wood. It’s because what’s most precious is on the inside.

It’s not the outer, everyday surface that we all project. It’s the small, vulnerable piece of ourselves that we hide under layers.

Isn’t time we shed the traditional outer “doctor layer,” and get back to our core?

There, at the center, is our unique self; it’s the best we have to offer to ourselves and to our patients.

My way may not be your way. That’s the whole point.

CATEGORIES: Blog on May 12, 2014 by Starla Fitch, M.D.

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