These were a few of the words —no— feelings which were echoed through the halls of Chateau Elan during the inaugural Women in White Coats Conference and Wellness Retreat. These feelings expressed the pervasive spirit of unity which flowed through the group of powerful women assembled.
When I arrived, my cup was empty. Countless days of caring for my patients while battling click fatigue in the EMR had left be burned out, tired, and generally fed up with medicine. I was suffering from emotional injury, as it’s now called, and I was done.
My first thought upon arrival was “this is such a beautiful place!” Immediately followed by “where’s the wine?”. I checked into my gorgeous room and took note of the soaking jacuzzi tub which beckoned me (although I never quite got to it), and sat on the bed. “I hope this was worth it…” was my next thought. I received my answer that evening during the welcome social. Before I even made it to bottom of the staircase, I felt the energy buzzing upward; positive, upbeat, and joyful. Right away I met a sister doc from my city who I otherwise may never have met. This was a good sign. During the social, we chatted, sipped, hugged, high-fived, and generally let our guards down in order to let the feeling wash over us. The evening was highlighted by a book signing where we were able to come face-to-face with some of the contributing authors of The Chronicles of Women in White Coats. I retired to my room that night (a few more glasses and laughs later) and was eager to see what the conference had in store.
Over the course of the next day and a half, my cohorts and I were privileged to take part in and learn from a variety of lectures touching on some of the unique issues that we as women in medicine face. “The State of Women in Healthcare: Glass Ceilings and Sticky Floors”; “More than Overwhelmed: How to Recognize Depression and Anxiety” and “Motherhood and Medicine: Balancing Being a Mom and a Doctor” are just a few examples of these timely discussions. We discovered a safe space in which we could voice our concerns, fears, and triumphs as we work to become the best versions of ourselves for our patients and families. There was an interchange of encouragement and a collective sense of understanding as we dissected these topics, strategizing ways to help medicine progress.
I could wax poetic for hours about the Heroes Dinner and Award Ceremony, aptly named as it celebrated our peers for the heroic efforts they are making in areas of research, community service, and patient care. I could list pages of quotable one-liners from our impromptu PJ party after the ceremony. And I could flood timelines with the amount of red-carpet photos, selfies, and usies that were taken. But I’d rather you find out for yourself next year. Until then, I am full. I am rejuvenated. I am invigorated. I am a woman in a white coat, and I am not alone.
Candice Evans, MD is a board-certified family medicine physician and Hospice medical director in Norfolk, VA. She loves spending time with her family traveling or just sitting quietly at the beach. You can follow her on IG @drcandee.