Why Doctors Should Take a Retreat

Wendy Schofer, MD writes that retreats aren't to hide and run away from the world, but to connect with what is most important to you.

Have you ever gone on a retreat?

I’m not talking about the Scouts of America kind, and I’m not talking about the one day that the residents took off in training to go do team-building exercises and trust walks. Nope, family vacations do not count, as we all know that we need a vacation from our vacation when we get home.

Have you ever just gone away, disconnected from everything else, and connected to yourself?

Does it sound dreamy? Or completely woo?

What if a retreat is the exact prescription that you need?

No, I’m not selling or hosting a retreat. But I’ve recently been on one and I’d like to reflect.

I attended the Physicians Living Intentionally retreat hosted by Dr Faryal Michaud, in Oahu, Hawaii in October. Faryal is a dear friend, palliative care physician, and life coach who truly embodies living our bucket lists now.


Have you ever just gone away, disconnected from everything else, and connected to yourself? Does it sound dreamy? Or completely woo? What if a retreat is the exact prescription that you need? Click To Tweet


I was asked repeatedly by colleagues and loved ones, what are the objectives for going on the retreat? Are you getting CME’s? Why are you going?

I went because:

  1. I wanted to.
  2. I’m worth it.
  3. I have been on one retreat in the past… 9 years ago.
  4. Faryal
  5. Hawaii
  6. I was called to. Yeah, I didn’t know why, I just had a full-body “YES!” when I asked myself if I wanted to go.

It wasn’t a “deeper meaning,” a specific void in my life that I wanted to fill, or a CME bucket-filler. In fact, I went because there were no objectives. And I think this is true adult learning in action: no one else has the objectives for what I need right now. Only I do.

And I needed a retreat.

“A retreat from what, life?” you ask.

No, that’s not it. I needed a chance to disconnect from the daily routine that wraps around us every day and reconnect to me, and my husband (who had the time of his life golfing while I attended discussions and activities). I don’t ever want to retreat from this life. And in order to live it to its fullest, I get to connect with what is most important to me.

That means taking time to take an inventory of what is working well, what brings me joy and meaning, and what I want more of.

Most of the time in life, we look at what is wrong, and what we want less of.

The retreat offered me the opportunity to see that I want more time (don’t we all) to connect with quiet, peace, and loved ones. I want to embody love, as well as the badass that I am. That’s what I got out of the retreat, and what I brought home with me. I also brought home a passion to get a full sleeve tattoo (reflecting love and badassery). Who knew?

No one would have seen that coming or put it on their list of objectives for my participation.


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This learning experience is powered by CMEfy - a platform that brings relevant CMEs to busy clinicians, at the right place and right time. Using short learning nudges, clinicians can reflect and unlock AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

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