What Brings You Joy?

Last issue, our back cover question asked, "How does being a health care provider bring you joy?" Here's what you had to say.

From Richard Bonfiglio (M.D. 1978):

Practicing in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation for 40 years has allowed me to partake in joyful moments with individuals suffering from tragic illnesses or injuries. Working with a cadre of rehabilitation professionals, many patients have experienced dramatic functional improvements, bringing joy to these individuals, their families, and the rehabilitation team.

I have witnessed a person with bilateral near-complete hand amputations learn to use myoelectric multi-articulating prostheses. Assisted by a powered exoskeleton, a father with paraplegia is able to walk down the aisle with his daughter at her wedding. A child with tetraplegic cerebral palsy but nearly normal cognition learns to communicate with an augmentative communication device and identify needs and wants. For individuals with chronic pain, finding therapies and alternative medications to eliminate the need and risks of narcotics can be life changing.

Even relatively small moments can bring outsized joy. Remembering a young man with severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy laugh at his father's bathroom humor always leaves me smiling. The greatest joy in medicine is a lifetime of sharing miracles with those that we serve.

From Ruchi Fitzgerald (M.D. 2004):

In 2019, our family worked with the Michigan Medicine Office of Development to establish the Mishra-Fitzgerald PROMISE (Perseverance, Resilience, Opportunity, Motivation, Inspiration, Strength, Equity) scholarship fund. I felt that we needed to do something to give back to the University of Michigan, and also address health care disparities in a tangible way. In the spirit of the Fitzbutler Jones Society Scholarship Fund, the PROMISE scholarship is designed to reduce the debt burden for an underrepresented minority, specifically a student who is African American, during their four years of medical school.

As a result of establishing this fund, I've had the opportunity to meet the students at U-M who are the next generation of physicians — including the current student who was awarded the PROMISE scholarship. I consider it a gift to meet these incredible students. In the midst of the pandemic, when I was busy with COVID 19 clinical duties, these Zoom sessions were inspirational and sustaining. It has been our family's privilege to support a student in their medical career — to help reduce the financial burden — and develop a deeper understanding about health equity during this journey.

From Robert Takla (M.D. 1993, MBA 2008):

It starts by recognizing we are truly blessed. While things may not be easy and we are all very busy, the truth is we are also extremely fortunate. And while we worked hard to get to where we are today, there is an incredible feeling of joy in giving to others. 

And by far, the most valuable contribution we can give is our time. Time to our patients with genuine concern for their health and wellbeing, time to our students and mentees who are on their own journey and career progression, and time to friends and family with unconditional love and support. 

While paying it forward seems like we are trying to help others, believe me, there is no greater personal gratification than feeling like you have helped someone else. After all, that is why we chose this profession. 


Note: To submit an answer to our next back cover question ("What are you doing to overcome or stave off burnout?"), email us at medicineatmichigan@med.umich.edu.

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