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Dr. Anne Suskind on dealing with triggers


"In the moment, I think it's important to take a deep breath and try not to just be reactive," says Anne M. Suskind, MD, MS, FACS, FPMRS.

In this installment of “Begin Your Journey,” Anne M. Suskind, MD, MS, FACS, FPMRS, discusses dealing with triggers with host Scott A. MacDiarmid, MD, FRCPSC. MacDiarmid is a urologist with Alliance Urology Specialists in Greensboro, North Carolina. Suskind is an associate professor of urology; obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive services, associate chair of faculty affairs and diversity, equity, and inclusion, and chief of neurourology and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.


MacDiarmid: Any thoughts on how you deal with acute stressors at work? Whether it's an ungrateful patient, or you don't think the nurses are doing the job, do you have a plan of attack?

Suskind: I think of these as "triggers." I joke around and say, "When I make it through clinic, and I don't get triggered, I'll know I'm enlightened then." It happens to me all the time...It's so hard to answer that question, because there are so many different types of triggers. I go by the philosophy that when I get triggered, there's something inside me that is showing itself that it needs to be healed, or it needs some attention. You don't get triggered if there's nothing there for you. That's like my own inner work that I do at a later time. But in the moment, I think it's important to take a deep breath and try not to just be reactive. Breathing is a nice way to do that—giving yourself a minute to calm down. It's like when you get that annoying email, not sending off a reply right away, but kind of taking yourself back and then kind of thinking about it and coming back to it later. Breath is always something that does that. Having perspective [is important]. How big of a problem is this really? Or is it just kind of something that I'm responding to, and that it's maybe more about me than the actual situation? It's so context specific that it's hard for me to answer that. But I think a good fallback is always the breath. The other thing that comes to mind is just accepting and meeting people where they are. They may not be where you are or have the background that you have, but we're all learning. We're all at different points in learning and in medicine, in life, etc. We don't know where anybody else is really, and just kind of acknowledging that, trying to meet people where they are, and acknowledging that we're all at different places.

This transcription was edited for clarity.

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