Podcast #17: Figuring out “how to get to where we want to go”, a discussion about mentorship and life in medicine with Dr. Justin Sanders

Dr. Sanders is a family doctor and chair of palliative medicine at McGill University. He received his MD in 2007 from the University of Vermont and his MSc in Medical Anthropology at the University College London. Dr. Sanders completed his residency in Family and Social Medicine in New York in 2014, followed by a fellowship in Interdisciplinary Palliative Care at Harvard University where he also served as an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Sanders is a physician-investigator whose research has focused on the intersection of serious illness, culture, and communication. At McGill, Dr Sanders has also taken on an active role as part of the whole person care curriculum.

We discuss:

  • 1:40 Dr. Sanders describes why he decided to go into medicine and the inspiration to go into palliative care
  • 6:20 Travels around the world before medical school and reflecting on the experience supporting a close friend in palliative care
  • 8:10 Medical school at the University of Vermont, the role of mentorship in medicine
  • 11:00 The experience of being a palliative care doctor
  • 13:30 Healing in palliative care and why it is important
  • 16:30 Non-linear pathways in medicine
  • 21:30 Balancing professional life and personal life
  • 22:40 Figuring out how to get to where we want to go
  • 24:30 Creating space for meaning for patients
  • 24:50 The importance of cultivating mentorship and some advice from his mentors
  • 26:50 Biggest challenges Dr. Sanders faced during his medical training
  • 30:50 Discussion of normalizing failure and humility
  • 37:10 “Challenging isn’t bad” and the resistance to challenge
  • 38:30 Dr. Sanders’ personal experience with mindfulness and wellness
  • 44:20 The conflict between striving to “move forward” vs. letting things settle
  • 48:00 Advice for medical trainees wanting to cultivate compassion for the self and others
  • 53:12 Creating a culture of personal wellness in medical education
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