Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Saved By Dance: One Doctor’s Story Of Burnout And Recovery

By Susan Biali, M.D.

Ten years ago, I was an emergency medicine resident and wanted to die. Today, I’m a general practitioner in part-time practice and in love with life. What made the difference? I signed up for a dance class.

Reports on physician burnout list the personality traits that set us up for trouble: we’re excessively conscientious, feel overly responsible, want to please everyone, and function on an extremely high level –- even if we’re overloaded, exhausted, or our personal life is falling apart. We burn out because we bend over backwards to help others, until something (like our minds or our health or our marriages) finally snaps. Now imagine this: what if we took some of that deep caring and hyper-responsibility, and turned it on ourselves?

When my depression hit bottom and I became a serious risk to myself and my patients, my chief resident asked me to take a stress leave. On impulse I went on a solo tropical vacation and one night at the resort, as I watched an exuberant group of salsa dancers burning up the stage, my eyes filled with tears. I suddenly remembered that when I was a little girl, I practiced incessantly in the basement to my ABBA records, preparing myself for the moment that I would live my dream and finally become a “Solid Gold Dancer.” That night, in that darkened tropical theater, I knew how I would save my life. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »