Starting Over: Making a Resolution That Works

20 Jan 2016

Lauren Poindexter, MD

Making New Year’s resolutions is, for many, a task fraught with expected failure. The time-worn “Go to the gym more often,” “Lose weight,” “Eat better” sound like positive endeavors nearly all of us can adopt, but how many gym memberships (mine included) go unappreciated after one, two, or three months?

I offer you an alternative: a resolution that will result in decreased stress, happier days, and rewards for you, your families, and your patients.

“Practicing gratitude.”

Start small. Let’s start with our bodies and brains.

Identify specific reasons for being grateful about the hands, arms, legs with which we do our work. List unique aspects of your personality for which your coworkers and friends are grateful. Our bodies enable us to bring healing and hope to our patients. Our brains calculate risks, seek out novel solutions to medical problems, and translate complicated medical jargon for patients and their loved ones.

How often do we undervalue our physical and emotional strength? How often are we kinder and gentler with our patients than we are with ourselves?

Once the thought of gratitude crosses your mind, focus one or more realistic actions you can initiate this week. Provide nurturing fuel for your ever-active body. Maybe seek out the fancy English cheddar cheese and apple selection at the market to stock up on simple snacks for the long days in the operating room. Offer your hips and thighs a much needed “thank you” for their hard work.

Resolve to let your budding gratitude grow into a daily habit this New Year.

One of my favorite hours to practice gratitude is at dawn when I’m finishing morning rounds. I’ve compiled a short list of the prettiest vantage points in the hospital to see the sun rise above the Phoenix skyline. I take a short moment to abort my habitual internal whine about my tired body and supplanted it with gratitude – I can be fully present in the hospital right now, to bring my patients peace and comfort during a sometimes painful recovery process in an often overwhelming environment.

Do you have a moment during the day when you can stop to look around and see nature peeking through the busy-ness? How grateful we can be for moments of beauty!

AWS Blog 1-20 picture
The Phoenix skyline facing east from the 6th floor of Barrows Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.


Gratitude serves as a positive affront to the stresses that threaten our inner peace. A number of AWS bloggers and members have championed this cause previously. Join us in practicing gratitude this New Year! What actions would you like to take to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine? Do you have a favorite spot to view the sunrise at your work? Please share below.






LKP cropLauren Poindexter, MD is a preliminary PGY-1 general surgery resident at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center (Phoenix, AZ). Originally from Los Angeles, she worked as a certified athletic trainer in Colorado before choosing a career in surgery. She completed her undergraduate degree at University of Southern California, graduate degree at University of Arkansas, post-baccalaureate pre-medical courses at Harvard Extension School, and medical degree at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (Roanoke, VA). Her research interests include coagulation disorders in trauma and synthetic materials for regenerative medicine.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

One Reply to “Starting Over: Making a Resolution That Works”

  1. I love this! Thanks for sharing. It is so inspiring. I especially love the point about taking a moment to be present. Because sometimes, our presence is the most valuable thing. Thanks for sharing. Gives me more to think about in the new year!

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