Can you imagine receiving medical care without compassion? I’m certain that you can because we have all experienced this. In my 23 years of practicing medicine, I am guilty of giving medical care without compassion. In those times, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the suffering in front of me impeded my desire and capacity to express compassion.
I’ve come to learn what I thought was expressing compassion wasn’t truly compassion. What my patients and I were experiencing was an empathetic connection. But empathy without compassion can often lead to distress and burnout. So my search began to find a more sustainable way of practicing medicine while also giving my patients the compassion they both deserved and desperately needed.
The ACT Program at CCARE
My journey started with a simple observation that we need more compassion in medicine. The moment I came across Applied Compassion Training at CCARE, I knew this program could be of help. I could see the difference compassion could make with my patients, but I didn’t know how to go about doing this in an actionable way. I trusted that what I learned in ACT would help me bring true compassion into my interactions with patients in real and tangible ways.
Surprisingly, one of my first discoveries during the ACT program was that what I needed most was compassion for myself! I practiced extending compassion to myself for not always being able to access compassion with my patients. The program helped me recognize my barriers to compassion and remove them.
Redefining compassion as I knew it was foundational to the understanding of how to apply compassion throughout my day. Through this re-definition that I learned from my mentors in ACT, I was able to accomplish things that had eluded me before.
Applied Compassion Capstone Project
ACT enabled me to finish my PhD, dovetailing what I learned about compassion at CCARE with my Applied Psychophysiology doctoral dissertation. I also completed a book about the psychophysiological effects of compassion. The ACT program helped me discover the vulnerability and self-compassion I needed to write the book with an open heart so that I could reach the hearts of others.
I have been able to adjust my Capstone Project to serve different populations and apply compassion to various types of suffering. Since graduating from ACT, I’ve worked with ICU nurses to help them process the trauma they suffered during the pandemic and taught cardiology residents in hospitals to access their innate compassion and apply it to patients. I’ve also been able to work with battered and abused women and with sex workers to help them achieve greater levels of self-compassion. I’m currently in contract with the veteran’s administration to work with the inspired individuals who help our veterans.
The impact of this program on my life has been transformational. This program has opened doors for me that I never imagined possible. Through my transformation during the ACT program, I’ve discovered how to take the full-body experience of compassion and turn it into actions that serve individuals across various settings. What started as me wanting to bring more compassion into medicine, has grown into so much more. I’m forever grateful for my fellow ACT Ambassador classmates and the exceptional leaders of this program.
Be the Change
Every person was born to bring forth something unique and beautiful. There is a calling within each of us. There is no calling too small or too big. Now is the time, the world needs what you have to offer. What makes this program unique is that you are guided every step of the way. You are provided with all the tools you need to create your compassion project in a setting where you want to make a difference!
You may have a spark of an idea, but it hasn’t caught fire yet. The ACT program will help you take the energy of uncertainty, fear, or doubt about how you can make a difference in our world and transform it into the energy to act!
I can tell you with 100% certainty that if you bring that spark to the Applied Compassion Training program this small bit of light will grow and flourish, lighting up the world with a desire to serve your fellow human beings in a way that is unique to you. The time is now, the person is you, the world needs more Compassion Ambassadors, and you’ve got this!