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Beating Burnout with a Buttered Blog

Below: Since I am now more well-rounded, I feel the conversations that I have with my patients are more well-rounded, making me a better doctor.

 

I am Dr. Lane Patten, one half of the duo that has created With Two Spoons – a food blog about the simple enjoyment of life…through food. I am also an Emergency Physician. Many people have asked me why I, along with my blogging partner, Holly, decided to enter into the world of food blogging. I mean after all, as a full time physician and mother, isn’t there enough chaos in my life already?

 

How It Began.

I did not actually learn to cook until I was done with my medical training and out in my first attending job. I just simply did not have the time.

But one day at work, one of my new colleagues asked me what I fed my kids, and I was embarrassed at the answer of “buttered noodles” and “chicken nuggets” (Which was true, but by the look on her face, I may as well have said I didn’t feed them at all.)

She made me her project and taught me how to get around in the kitchen. Who knew?

I actually loved the kitchen. So the short to answer to why I agreed to start the blog?  I love the kitchen and I’m passionate about getting people into the kitchen and even more passionate about connecting people around the table.

The Long Answer.

The long answer is more complicated.

First, you have to understand I have wanted to be a physician for my entire life (well, except for the year when I was 8 and wanted to be an astronaut, but given my severe claustrophobia and motion sickness, this ended up seeming an unwise career pathway).

I wanted to solve those complicated medical puzzles, and truly help people. I liked the idea of being a perpetual student. Medicine was ingrained in me early on.

Work Happened.

I now work an Emergency Physician, in a busy Level 1 Trauma Center in Minneapolis.

I have been residency trained in the skills needed to render lifesaving Emergency Care, and this was the perfect choice for me, as I need to be busy with a lot of variety.

I spend many hours seeing patients from all walks of life, all ages, all types of complaints. Our emergency department is busy 24/7, and it is a privilege to care for everyone who comes through our doors. But with that privilege comes a few downsides.

 

The Downsides.

The job is very mentally exhausting.

I worry about my patients long after they’ve left my care. Many times I wish that I could be of more help as so many problems are social or economic in nature, but unfortunately resources are limited. I get angry for my patients at how difficult the current healthcare system is to navigate.

The job is physically demanding too. Many times I don’t get a chance to eat while on shift, or go grab a cup of coffee, or even use the bathroom. Slowly, this level of pressure starts to wear you down, no matter how much you love your job.

 

Suffering from Burnout.

I was a caregiver, but had started to forget to take care of myself. I had started to lose my creative side. I am an avid reader, and couldn’t remember the last novel I had read. I used to scrapbook, but hadn’t even finished my oldest child’s baby book (she’s 15). My husband correctly noticed that my fuse was short and I wasn’t enjoying things I previously had. I had actually thought about quitting medicine and going back to school, but that didn’t feel quite right. I was suffering from burnout.

After one particularly difficult string of shifts, I found myself in an interesting conversation with my bestie, Holly.

 

We realized we were frequently talking about food, sharing recipes and planning social events around a menu. We came up with the idea to start a blog of our favorite foods, recipes, and cookbooks. Both of us were bemoaning the loss of our creative sides. What is more creative than food? And since I had previously found that I loved being in the kitchen, this would be the perfect fit.

 

Many would argue that I didn’t need another hobby to take up my already thinly stretched time, but I would argue that same hobby has saved the other aspects of my life-especially my full time career.

 

The Birth of Two Spoons.

I went out and bought a DSLR camera. I took a few photography courses. I worked for hours in the kitchen, creating new recipes and perfecting some of my previous favorites. My family loved it, as there were more family dinners around the dinner table. I went back to being a student-after all there is so much to learn about creating a blog-but the kind of student that didn’t mean giving up my full time career.

I became happier. Work seemed less stressful. With Two Spoons was born.

 

Beating Burnout with Blog.

With Two Spoons was my answer to career burnout. The blog has been an amazing outlet. A stress reliever, if you will.

I mostly keep the blog and my full time careers separate. Many of our readers and social media followers do not even know I am a physician and I generally do not talk about medicine or give out medical advice.

Holly and I take turns doing posts-some weeks are busier in her life, and some weeks are busier in mine so we work it out ahead of time.

Sometimes (the best times), we get together and spend the day cooking and photographing for the blog. We have “working” lunches where we decide what recipes we are going to post, what we need to do to stay current in the social media world, and how we are going to answer requests for product sponsorships.

 

Food Blog Vs. Work.

It is unlikely our food blog will ever replace our full time jobs. And I’m not sure I would want it to (but if you know someone interested in offering us a cookbook deal-by all means put us in touch!).

Since I am now more well-rounded, I feel the conversations that I have with my patients are more well-rounded, making me a better doctor. Taking care of myself has allowed me to become better at taking care of my patients. I love medicine and I love food and the two co-exist in my life very nicely. The blog which is an absolute labor of love, provides a well needed break from the insane pressures of the emergency department.

If I have one piece of advice for your readers it is this:

 

Find what makes your heart happy and do it. No excuses.

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