Conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1992.
Hosted by Will Bachman.

Episode: 82

Genève Allison, Physician Burnout and Recovery

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Show notes

Genève Allison, an attending physician in infectious diseases, shares her journey since graduating from Harvard. She took a leave of absence from work in 2023, which was not something she would have predicted but turned out to be one of the best things she’s done. Her journey began with working in a research lab and meeting physicians, leading her to pursue medicine as a career. She went to the University of Massachusetts Medical School and completed a residency in infectious diseases before returning to Boston to pursue infectious diseases at Tufts.

 

Methods of Recovering from Burnout

During the pandemic, Genève experienced burnout and emotional exhaustion. She sought support from her primary care doctor, who helped her get a medical leave for three months. This allowed her to heal from the trauma and work on toxic habits that can lead to burnout. She believes that we don’t talk enough about taking care of ourselves in society, and she wants to share her experience on the 92 Report to inspire others to reach out for help. 

Genève’s leave of absence was a time for her to try everything, including therapy, journaling, and writing exposure therapy. She used specific therapy notebooks to process traumatic events and write about them in detail, which helped her dissipate the stress and improve her mental health. She also participated in a pottery class, which was enjoyable and allowed her to get out of her perfectionistic stressful mindset. Genève talks about the fundamental need to make things with our hands, such as building a shed, baking, knitting, gardening, and pottery. During the pandemic, baking became a major concern, and people talked about sourdough as a solution. The conversation also touches on the importance of taking time off from work to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as playing the flute or attending therapy sessions.

 

A Physician’s Personal Experiences during the Pandemic

The conversation shifts to her personal experiences during the pandemic. She felt scared that she didn’t care enough to be a doctor, which led her to take time off. However, she found that her caring barometer was off, and she realized that she had to care for patients and their well-being. She talks about experience as an infectious disease specialist during the pandemic. She describes the surreal and bizarre situation of being the only person on her train to go to work, especially in the pediatrics where the inpatient pediatrics floor was converted into an adult Intensive Care Unit due to the need for ventilators. Genève shares her experiences with fighting with elderly chaplains who would enter patients rooms with COVID, despite not having vaccines yet. The suffering experienced by patients dying of COVID was beyond what the physician was prepared for. Patients were not allowed to have families present at their bedside, and nurses were at their bedside when they were dying. This was unimaginably painful for both the patient and their family. The emotional labor that comes with being present at a loved one’s death is also difficult to witness.

 

Factors Leading to Burnout

Genève explains that a mix of things led to her burnout, including perfectionism, type A behaviors, and restlessness. The pandemic magnified these issues, as the work was never going to be done, and recommendations were constantly changing. She realized that she needed to take care of herself and figure out fixed beliefs that she couldn’t prioritize. This led to therapy and the realization that she needed to prioritize herself over her work. She discusses how her approach to work has changed over the years. She now takes secondary prevention, such as avoiding smoking, exercising, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She now focuses on self-care and taking care of her mental health, which has helped her avoid burnout in the future. Genève uses an analogy of a heart attack, where people talk about secondary prevention because they don’t want another heart attack.

 

Healing from Burnout

Genève talks about her skepticism about their energetic capacity and their decision to say no more often. She mentions that she has said no to various activities, such as being part of a research committee or helping a research group. She also mentions that being tired is not a character flaw but a human emotion. She talks about acupuncture and that some studies suggest it has no scientific impact, but the placebo effect may play a role. She acknowledges that there is a lot of literature on the meridians used in acupuncture and the physiological correlates of these effects. During her training in California, she became best friends with a physician who had trained in both allopathic medicine and acupuncture and herbs. They worked together on a residency and have since worked with a group where she does acupuncture for patients undergoing chemotherapy to alleviate side effects. Her motivation for doing acupuncture was due to physical symptoms of burnout, such as migraines, dizziness, and neck pain from stress. She experienced an immediate improvement in their well-being after receiving needles in their legs, which she continues to maintain.

 

The Field of Infectious Disease

Genève talks about why she was interested in the Infectious disease field. She mentions that it is a fascinating field that involves solving puzzles and figuring things out when others cannot. It’s a satisfying field where doctors can make diagnoses, create treatment plans, and see people get better. 

 

Influential Harvard Professors and Courses

Genève shares her experiences with mentorship and support from Carl Liam, a professor of biology and an IQ theologist. His mentorship and belief in him made a huge difference during their sophomore year, helping her become better mentors and learn that stumbles are normal parts of life. She emphasizes the importance of seeking help for medical professionals, as many doctors commit suicide every day due to fear of losing their licenses. 

 

Links:

https://www.tuftsmedicalcenter.org/PhysicianDirectory/Geneve-Allison.aspx

https://www.besselvanderkolk.com/resources/the-body-keeps-the-score

https://www.medscape.com/sites/public/lifestyle/2023

https://shop.therapynotebooks.com/products/after-trauma-notebook?gad=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwm66pBhDQARIsALIR2zAqJRHjPOAmEqoK44NVYKpdCGYch0GbFgWxQiLrq-yB5UVcRQHaGDkaAgepEALw_wcB&tw_adid=599080069633&tw_campaign=16508759695&tw_source=google

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_and_Medical_Leave_Act_of_1993

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22641-emdr-therapy

https://www.acgme.org/globalassets/PDFs/ten-facts-about-physician-suicide.pdf

https://drlornabreen.org/

https://iwgdfguidelines.org/allison/

 

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Transcript

 

92-82.Geneve Allison

SPEAKERS

Geneve Allison, Will Bachman

 

Will Bachman  00:01

Hello, and welcome to the 92 Report. I’m your host will Bachman. If you visit 92 report.com, you can sign up for the newsletter, we’ll let you know about each episode send you the show notes and the transcript. And now I’d like to introduce our guest, Jeanette Allison. Jeanette. Welcome to the show.

 

Geneve Allison  00:20

Well, thank you. Well, thank you for having me.

 

Will Bachman  00:23

So generif, tell me about your journey since graduating from Harvard.

 

Geneve Allison  00:28

Sure. So Well, I think I’m going to start with the near present. 2023 was an interesting year for me, because I actually took a leave of absence from work, which is not something that I ever would have predicted that I would do. But it turned out to be one of the best things that I’ve done.

 

Will Bachman  00:51

Tell me more.

 

Geneve Allison  00:53

So let me tell you a little bit about what my work is and how I got here. And then I’ll tell you about the leaf and all of that. So I’m an attending physician in infectious diseases. And I’ve been specialized in that since 2007. So a quick run through after graduating from Harvard. Really no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I loved science, but I didn’t know what to do with it. And I was working in a research lab and met physicians that way, and got interested in medicine as a career through that, and then went to University of Massachusetts Medical School, from 96 to 2000. And then I did residency and fell in love with infectious diseases as a field, and came back to Boston, I did residency in California, in Oakland at the Alameda County Medical Center, which was a great experience itself. And then I came back to the Boston area to pursue infectious diseases at Tufts in downtown Boston. So I’ve been there ever since. And I think it’s hard to even describe what we all went through, it’s difficult to describe what we went through in the pandemic, but everybody has been hit hard, and in different ways. But it was, it was a very challenging experience for sure. As a physician, you’re, you spent a lot of time training and learning so that you can help take care of people and just the experience of having this completely new pathogen where we really didn’t know what to do. And then treatments were evolving extremely quickly. But just the the amount of suffering that we were witnessing was really beyond what most of us had ever experienced or prepared for. So it was it was very difficult. So, but I got through it, and I survived and and you know, things seem to be going okay. But then I started realized that really, I was not okay, I was really burned out and really emotionally exhausted. And it was, you know, on the days that I was like seeing clinic patients and kind of keeping up a brave friend, but then I would like in between patients go to cry my office, I realized there was maybe something wrong with that. So I went to my primary care doctor and talked to her about it, she was very supportive. And she helped me get a medical leave for this burnout for three months. And it’s really been game changing to do that. I’m really, really glad I did. So it took a lot of time to heal from all the trauma that I had gone through the pandemic, as well as really work on some, some of this sort of perfectionism and kind of somewhat toxic habits that you develop as a, as a physician, along the way that kind of can lead inevitably to burnout if you don’t take care of yourself. So it was really good. And that’s actually a main reason why I wanted to come on your show was that I feel like we don’t talk enough about taking care of ourselves in this society in general. And I feel like when there is discussion of burnout, there’s just this sort of like, oh my God, I hope that never happens to me, as opposed to hearing from someone who’s gone through it and gotten some treatment and gotten better. So that’s really why I wanted to come on, I feel like if one person hears this who’s struggling, who gets inspired to maybe reach out for some help, then this will have been worthwhile.

 

Will Bachman  04:45

That’s very brave of you to share this. Say more. I mean, I have so many questions about this. And I’m trying to think here about where to ask it from so but I I’ll just I’ll tell you a few of the questions in the ticket where you want like, I want to ask you about, you know, the the leave of absence, like, what did you do to kind of help recover? And I’m also curious about what, how did burnout manifest itself? And then I also have questions about just the experience of being a infectious disease physician during COVID. But so I’ve all these questions, you turn it to you, you, you decide where to start?

 

Geneve Allison  05:30

Sure, it sounds good. Um, let’s see. Maybe I’ll take them in order that you asked. So you asked, What did I do? Right, during my leave, to get better, I took the I, I took that attitude that let me try everything. Let me try anything in any and everything to get better. So I had a therapist, so I doubled down on that I, I met her twice a week, we went remotely, but twice a week, lot of journaling, I use these specific therapy notebooks where you can do written exposure therapy, and then that was really helpful. So written exposure therapy is an evidence based practice where you take a traumatic event that’s happened. And you process it by writing about it in detail. So you allow yourself to get back there, feel all the feelings that that gives you, and then write about it. And you do it over and over again, in a very structured way. So that over time, it actually dissipates, and no longer has the hold over you that it once did. So I did that. And this is a totally, this is gonna sound totally hokey, but I don’t care. I did a pottery class, which was amazing. Because it was working with my hands. It was playful. It was, it didn’t matter. If my pot was ruined, who cares? At the end of the day, like I’m not trying to make this to sell to make money. It’s just for fun. Like getting dirty for fun was really great. Just getting out of that whole like perfectionistic stressful mindset and just playing literally playing.

 

Will Bachman  07:23

Now that does not sound foolish at all. I think humans have a fundamental need to make things with our hands, whether it’s building a shed or baking a cake or knitting something or gardening or pottery like that is so fundamentally human that I think it’s awesome that you did that.

 

Geneve Allison  07:42

I think you’re right. And just look at how baking went nuts during the pandemic. And people talking about like the sourdough that saved me. Right. Thanks. Right. It’s really satisfying to make things with your hands. Need. Yeah, right.

 

Will Bachman  07:55

Okay, so pottery class, that sounds fun pottery

 

Geneve Allison  07:57

class. The great thing about it was I was like, who else is going to be taking pottery on a Tuesday? And it turned out it was two other burnout physicians.

 

Will Bachman  08:09

Yes, it’s the burnout position pathway

 

Geneve Allison  08:12

is it was it was amazing. They were so supportive. It was awesome. I was like, I could not an engineer. that’s any better.

 

Will Bachman  08:19

Okay.

 

Geneve Allison  08:23

The universe was like, I got your back. Okay. I did a lot of music. I’ve been playing the flute as a hobby for about five years. So I did that a lot. That was nice. I was still busy. It’s funny how you can take time off and still be really busy. I mean, I’m a I’m a parent. I’m a wife. I have two kids in middle school in high school. So I was at home still doing all the things. And then, you know, lots of therapy and things like that. Yeah, those those were the times. Oh, acupuncture. acupuncture, yoga. Yeah, a lot of reading about trauma. I read the Body Keeps the Score, which is excellent. about understanding trauma and how trauma kind of lodges in the body. Yeah, I think that that was sort of the bulk of what I did. I went away with one of my best friends from medical school to Kripalu for a weekend, which is a yoga retreat center in Western Mass. That was great, too. So yeah, all of these things I tried medications that my PCP prescribed, but it didn’t, didn’t really do much. And I thought that was interesting. Like it was a very occupational illness, because I was I was okay when I was at home. But when I was at work, I would I sort of found work like re traumatizing in some ways, like things would remind me of things that had happened during COVID and I would get really upset And just the exhaustion and feeling emotionally drained. It made me scared that I didn’t. This sounds awful. It’s hard to admit. But I felt scared that I didn’t care enough to be a doctor. So I got time off. Like, at the right time, like I hadn’t yet had any as my chief said, you know, no performance issues, no problems doing my job. Just on the inside. I was like ashes was really bad. But on the outside, like, I looked fine. I was okay. I was like a robot going through the motions.

 

Will Bachman  10:38

Wow. Okay. You said scared that you didn’t care enough? Like, what’s the right amount for physician to care? I mean, if they care too much, right, then. That’s bad. But if they don’t care at all, that’s probably don’t totally. Yeah. That’s not good. I mean, is there like an optimal amount to care?

 

Geneve Allison  11:05

That’s a great question. I think it’s probably unique to each person. But I knew that my, my caring barometer or whatever it was, was like, way off. It was just this feeling of like, don’t care, don’t care, don’t care. And as a physician, you have to care. Because there’s a lot of parts of the job that are annoying. And it’s the caring part that I find, like gets me through that that like, Okay, I hate this paperwork, but I’m doing it in service of this patient, because I care about their well being and I want them to get better. So I will do it. And, and I was still going through the motions, but I could just really feel it that I didn’t care. And so I was like, Okay, this can’t go on this. Is this dangerous? You have to care. If you don’t care. It’s not a it’s not a good job.

 

Will Bachman  11:54

And it sounds like you said earlier that it’s been relatively successful. Experience. Are you back to work now? Or are you are you Yes,

 

Geneve Allison  12:03

it’s been really successful. Yeah. Yeah, I am back to work. I’m happy. I’m not crying in clinic anymore. I know. That’s a really low bar, but but I just, I don’t have that feeling of, of feeling like ashes on the inside anymore. Like, I’m, I’m not emotionally exhausted anymore. I’m, I’m happy. I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’m happy to work in my team. I’m happy to see patients. Yeah, sure. It gets tiring and stressful. Sometimes when I have like an 80 hour week, it’s, it’s tiring. But that’s normal. It should be tiring. That’s okay. But not in this sort of deep existential sort of way.

 

Will Bachman  12:45

Tell us a bit about what it was like being a physician, an infectious disease specialist, no less during the pandemic, and what aspects of that do you think led to your burnout?

 

Geneve Allison  13:00

Sure. It was surreal and bizarre, I would board the train to go to work and I would sometimes be the only person on my train car. And I would get to work. And for example, the pediatrics there’s an inpatient pediatrics floor that was converted into an adult Intensive Care Unit. Because we had so many patients needing ventilators. We had changed the structures of the rooms to put Windows on doors, so that we could see patients without going inside if we didn’t absolutely have to. Because just bear in mind, we’re all in vaccinated at this point. There’s no vaccines. And, you know, we saw how badly it could affect people we saw that it could be deadly. So it was a pretty nerve wracking time. My husband called it the Karen Silkwood. When I would come home, like, you know, I have my sort of ritual of like decontamination because we kind of didn’t know at first, like, you know, it turned out like not really a big deal, like stuff being carried on clothes and things. But at first you just don’t know. You don’t know anything. So, yeah, it was it was very surreal. It was very hard. It was also it was also incredible, like the especially that like the nursing staff was just amazing. And I also remember sort of fighting, not really fighting, I would never fight with a priest. But I remember sort of giving an elderly one of our elderly chaplains a hard time because he would go into patients rooms with COVID. He is like in his 70s Like, no vaccines yet. He would Dawn all the PPE he would go he’d administer the sacrament. I was like, can’t you do it from outside the door? Can’t you pray, pray for them outside the door. Do you have to go in really good And he was like, Yeah, I, yes, my place is right there at the bedside, I’m, I’m not going to do it through the door. And so just people’s like, Courage day in and day out was just really amazing to witness. I definitely drew upon strengths in my family, my grandparents lived in London during the bombings and just made a lot of really courageous decisions in their lives. And I really, there, they both died many years ago, but I thought about them a lot. While I was going through all of this, and it, it gave me some strength, that no matter how bad things were right now, they’d been through way worse, and had made it. So that was helpful. And there was definitely camaraderie, which I really appreciated. So those are all good things. I think the things that were really hard that contributed to burnout was the political situation at the time. And feeling unsupported. And feeling like more could have been done to secure supplies, like, you know, we were given one mask a day. At that point, we had to be really careful about our supplies. It was just really bizarre. And it seemed like, there could have been another way to get that accomplished. But it wasn’t. And that was really, really depressing. I found that really hard. You mentioned Yeah, I think yeah, go ahead.

 

Will Bachman  16:46

You mentioned the suffering was beyond what you were prepared for. Now, I imagine that one individual person dying of COVID, at least I’m guessing was not more terrible than one person dying of some other infectious diseases that you’ve treated? Was it just the like the volume and number of are the highest percentage of patients that were dying? Or what what was what was? What was the aspect of the suffering? That was that was particularly different? In this case?

 

Geneve Allison  17:24

It was the dying alone. Yeah, patients weren’t allowed to have families come? Yeah, we were we were at their bedside when they were dying, particularly the nurses were at their bedside when they were dying. They had no family there. Were you know, Jerry rigging things. We were having iPads so that they could see their families. I mean, that, to me that’s just unimaginably painful, not just for the patient, but also for their family that like, they weren’t there at that most crucial time. They couldn’t be there. That’s the suffering.

 

Will Bachman  18:03

So that’s interesting that that’s not necessarily the answer I was expecting. So that’s very surprising and interesting to me. And so it felt different to you, as the physician treating them that they were not only dying, but in a terrible way, but also not supported by their family. And that felt just more more terrible to people surrounding them. They were dying alone.

 

Geneve Allison  18:30

Yes, exactly that, that is so opposite. What usually happens, so if if a patient is dying in the hospital, and there’s been so sometimes there’s their end of life discussions, and there’s goals of care discussions, and perhaps the the limits of medical care had been reached, and the patient and family decide together, that they’re going to focus on comfort measures, and the patient’s life is going to come to an end in the hospital. There’s so much that’s done around family support around the family being there, around the patient, there’s just so much that happens to make that death, as comfortable as dignified and also like as resolving for the family as possible. And I’ve seen different religious rituals be carried out by family members that were important to them. And so, you know, you were talking about like, you know, the humaneness of making things with your hands. And I think another like really critical human thing is to be present at your loved one’s death, if that’s what works for you, your family, your culture, etc. And for the most part, that is what happens. And so to have that taken away from people, by this illness, was just really, really tough to witness. And that meant also that that emotional labor really felt I felt it felt most strongly on the nerves. says, it’s just really hard to watch everybody going through that collectively. So yeah, it was really tough.

 

Will Bachman  20:07

That phrase really resonates that emotional labor. Like, I can definitely see as still kind of a middle aged person, how tough it would be to not like be present at your parents bedside, if you kind of it was anticipated. What about the patient’s themselves? Do you think I mean, does having family around, change the experience for someone who is like, who knows that they are, you know, going to be dying like that they’re surrounded by people? Is that

 

Geneve Allison  20:39

100%? It’s so lonely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So a lot of things. There’s a lot of stuff. But the truth is, I think I was kind of burned out before COVID. And then COVID, just really, like, put the smackdown on me. So I don’t mean this to be a depressing conversation. I really want to show the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Will Bachman  21:04

It’s not depressing. I mean, it’s just okay. I don’t, I don’t often like cry on this show. And I’m doing it. But I’m just about to hear it’s like just that hearing that experience that families went through and the way you explain it. What, what was it before Before COVID, what was what was leading you to burnout.

 

Geneve Allison  21:24

I think a whole mix of things, I think a lot of perfectionism, a lot of sort of I think a lot of kind of type A behaviors that just became sort of the norm, a difficulty or restlessness with feeling like I always need to work, I always need to be productive. That’s how I get my self worth. And then COVID just really magnified that because all of a sudden, like the work was never going to be done really, really never going to be done. And, you know, I had so many experiences where I felt out of my league, I’m drowning, like, the recommendations are changing all the time. I’m supposed to be an expert. I’m not an expert at COVID. Because it just happened. Yeah, so I think it just, it just really, really added up. But I think that, you know that there’s been research, which I’m not like, a burnout researcher by any means. But there’s been a lot of concern about burnout in the healthcare professions. The past at least 10 years, people have been talking about it. So it’s nothing new. So I think it’s the people need to have meaning in their work, right, the more that we spend on paperwork, and dealing with insurance and electronic records and things like that, none of which is why we wanted to go into learning to be a doctor or a healer. Things like that. It all kind of contributes. But what I realized was that I needed to take care of myself and figure out these fixed beliefs that I had that I can’t rest, I can’t prioritize myself. That’s being lazy. That’s, you know, those kinds of things that that’s what we spent a lot of time on in therapy was figuring out that kind of stuff. Because I didn’t want to take three months off and be like, Okay, that was a nice rest, and then dive back in and do it all over again.

 

Will Bachman  23:29

So good. I’m glad you got to this, because this was the question I had next, which is, right, that’s not like a great thing to say, Okay, go back, and then you hit it super hard again. And then six years later, raise your hand. Okay. And I need another one of these. What dump tell me about how your approach or your habits are changed now, to kind of approach work in a different way to try to avoid burnout in the future to take more care of yourself. What’s changed now? Sure.

 

Geneve Allison  24:01

So I’ll give you an analogy. So when people have a heart attack, they talk about secondary prevention, right? Because you don’t want another one, right. So sometimes people who have not necessarily taking care of their cholesterol or smoking or exercise or all these kinds of things, after the first heart attack is the wake up call, because they don’t want a second one. So that’s how I feel. I feel like I’m doing secondary prevention. Okay. So it means maintaining the things that I found that worked. So therapy for sure. But also changing my job a bit. So I’ve dialed back the clinical medicine a little bit because I was really lucky. I got the position in the medical school as a coach. So I’m now coaching medical students, which is awesome. And that revenue actually bought me out of a little bit of clinical time. So that helps just just decrease the stress a bit. Because coaching students is so life giving. It’s so wonderful. Like I love interacting with them. It’s it’s the best. So yeah, so changing my job description a bit. And I think one of the biggest things is just saying no more often, just really thinking about like, what energetic capacity do I have? Oh, Siri thought it was talking to Siri. Sorry if that came through series like I don’t understand what they’re doing.

 

Will Bachman  25:29

They’re saying no, no means no, no, it’s

 

Geneve Allison  25:31

very simple. It’s no is a complete sentence. Don’t you understand this? So? Yeah, so it’s just, it’s saying no more often. And really being skeptical about my energetic capacity for things. Tell me So realizing that tell me something

 

Will Bachman  25:47

that you said no to? That you might have said yes to in the past.

 

Geneve Allison  25:52

Sure. I have tons. Where should I begin? Just today, I said no to a friend who wanted to like chat for a while. And I love her and I, normally I would, but I was like, I have a really busy day. And I’m just not going to fill it chockablock every minute, like I need time in between these different activities to decompress or E or whatever. So I said no. Be part of a research committee. No. Help this research group studying resistant staph aureus. No, I’ll find you someone else who can do it. And I did. What else? I don’t know. Is that like, is that enough of a sample size? Like

 

Will Bachman  26:38

that Meghan Trainor song. My name is no. That Meghan Trainor song? Yeah. My name is no, the answer is no. You gotta let it go. Yeah.

 

Geneve Allison  26:53

Yeah. Just more no small nose and big nose. Yeah. But it just kind of running it through a rubric of like, Is this in my job description? Does my chief care if I do this? Do I care? You know, if, if the answer to all of those is no, it’s might be a no. Like, I’m not interested in doing it. If it’s not really part of my job. There’s a lot of things in academic medicine that kind of no one cares if you do it. And you don’t like it. So why say yes?

 

27:24

I say yes. Yeah. Why say? Yes. So?

 

Geneve Allison  27:27

Yeah, I think those are, those are definitely some things. And I think another big mental shift is just that being tired is not a character flaw. It’s just human.

 

Will Bachman  27:38

Are you keeping up with the pottery?

 

Geneve Allison  27:42

No. No, it was, it was more than I had bandwidth for with going back to work. Yeah. Notice. I said no to pottery I did. And I was and I felt complete. I have this little shelf of things that I made. And I feel no desire to make any more. So I’m like, it was good. And I’m all set. But I’m still playing the flute. And, and in fact, I doubled down on it. So I play more flute now than ever.

 

Will Bachman  28:12

So what about the journaling?

 

Geneve Allison  28:15

Oh, yeah, that’s definitely, definitely staying journaling therapy, about once a month acupuncture. Really?

 

Will Bachman  28:22

Okay, I get asked question, acupuncture, because you’re sort of a sciency sort of person, being a doctor, and all. Now, what I’ve heard and read is that some studies suggest that acupuncture has basically no scientific kind of impact. But potentially some of the impact may be the placebo effect, you have this, you know, trained person and white coat, who is very kind to you and pays attention to you. But like the actual locations of those needles, that basically arbitrary, but as just whatever, I’m curious to hear your perspective on acupuncture, you’re doing it? Am I you know, are those things wrong? Is there really some science behind this that actually works?

 

Geneve Allison  29:09

Sure. And I say this not as a person who deeply understands the science of acupuncture herself. So let’s just clear the air on that, like, I’m not up to date on the literature, and

 

Will Bachman  29:20

it could work just with the placebo effect. I mean, the placebo effect is an effect, right? But but I cut you off.

 

Geneve Allison  29:28

But 100% The placebo effect is very real. But just to back up a little bit during my training. During my training in California, I actually became best friends with a physician who had already trained in China, both in allopathic medicine or what some would call Western medicine, and acupuncture and herbs. So she had already become fully trained in that we did residency together and then she’s gone on to have a very successful career working with a key Answer group where she does acupuncture for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy to help ameliorate their side effects. I think there actually is a big literature on the meridians that are used in acupuncture and figuring out like, what are the actual physiological correlates of these. So I think that there is actually quite a literature out there on like, the underlying physiological basis of why sticking needles in various places works, but I’m not privy to that. Like I’m, I’m pretty much a layperson when it comes to acupuncture. Now, the reason why I’m doing it is when I was at my lowest point, and some of my burnout really manifested very physically, I had migraines, dizziness, neck pain, just from stress. And I went to an acupuncturist, kind of reluctantly, but someone was like, You got to do this. And I was like, Yeah, I’m here, but it’s not going to do anything. And my God, it helped. Wow, really? Yeah. Like, instantly.

 

Will Bachman  31:09

Okay, instant. Wow. Yeah, see more. So he

 

Geneve Allison  31:13

put needles in my legs, and my neck pain went away. What? I know. I know. I know. Yes. It was that immediate? Yeah.

 

Will Bachman  31:31

Yep. You got to say if it works, it works.

 

Geneve Allison  31:33

Right. That’s, that’s how I felt. I was like, you know, this is pretty amazing. And so I maintain it. I do sort of maintenance with it. And when I’m lying there on the table, like, you know, pin pin cushioned up, I just feel a sense of well being like, it’s great. I just sort of float off. It’s really nice. So if that’s the placebo effect, I’m good.

 

Will Bachman  31:55

I mean, it’s working. Right. The placebo effect is working if it is a placebo effect.

 

Geneve Allison  31:59

If it is, but I think there’s more to it. Okay. Yeah. All right. Yeah.

 

Will Bachman  32:06

Infectious disease. I am curious. What got you you said? He said, I think that you thought it was fascinating. Or mostly I

 

Geneve Allison  32:16

said, I fell in love with love with love with it. Yeah.

 

Will Bachman  32:19

What did you find? Intermatic?

 

Geneve Allison  32:22

I know. Well, maybe it would help to explain a little bit what type of doctoring it is so. So the practice of infectious disease is oftentimes solving puzzles. It’s figuring things out when others can’t. And so it’s it’s really the role is your this year that detective, your Sherlock Holmes, of medicine, and to some degree, you’re a doctor’s doctor, because we’re often invited to a case when other people haven’t figured something out. I love that. I, I find it fascinating. I love dealing in complexity. I love talking to patients and really figuring out what’s going on. So it’s this sense of detective work that I really, really liked. And, and our drugs aren’t that bad. They’re not that harmful, which is nice. There are other fields where the drugs are a lot nastier. And by and large, people get better for most infectious diseases. So yeah, so it’s a very satisfying field where you can make a diagnosis where there was none before you can help create a treatment plan and see people get better. And I like the multidisciplinary nature of it, too. I like working with other doctors as a team. So those were some of my reasons.

 

Will Bachman  33:50

I want to ask you now and turn back to college. Are there any courses or professors that you had that continue to resonate with you?

 

Geneve Allison  34:02

Definitely. So my housemaster was Carl Liam, who was a professor of biology and an IQ theologist. And it I enjoyed his biology classes, but it was actually really his mentorship and his belief in me that really made a huge difference. I struggled during my sophomore year, and I took a year off. And when I came back, he was just so supportive. And he could have played it very differently, but he chose not to, and that sort of support when I was sort of getting my feet back under me and, you know, coming back to junior year, it really meant the world. And what that’s done for me is it’s really helped me be a better mentor as well. And to realize that people do so much better. If you let them know you believe Bynum, and that stumbles are a normal part of life. And that’s how you learn. And it’s okay. And I pick yourself up. And now you’re going to do great. And that was basically his attitude. It just meant the world to me. It was amazing.

 

Will Bachman  35:16

I mean, we need to hear that from people, from our mentors from our leaders, that you can release that burden. It’s okay. Just gotta learn from it or whatever. What you do in your year off.

 

Geneve Allison  35:31

I worked in research labs, I got certified to scuba dive. I did three weeks hiking mountains in Colorado part of our bound. So Pete, thanks. That’s nice. Just gotta just kind of get my head together. Yeah. Well,

 

Will Bachman  35:51

where can listeners find you online? If they wanted to reach out or find out more what you have going on?

 

Geneve Allison  36:01

I have zero social media presence,

 

Will Bachman  36:04

zero media. So zero, socials. Okay.

 

Geneve Allison  36:07

Not on the socials at all. So can we put my email the show notes is that appropriate,

 

Will Bachman  36:15

we can do that if you want, you know, your, your your it’s going to be out there in the universe. But we’ll do that if you want. So, listeners, maybe in the show notes, you can check the show notes, and it will be there. Yeah. So if you’re a friend of Jeanette, you can probably find her in the Red Book. And if not, maybe in the show notes. There you go. Jeanette, this was, I think, I think really brave of you to come on the show and talk about experiencing burnout as a professional, put that out there. And then thank you for sharing that. And, and also telling us about the path that you took to, you know, recover from that. I think it’s a wonderful story, I’m inspired.

 

Geneve Allison  37:03

Well, thank you, I really appreciate you giving me a space to talk about it. Like I said before, if one person hears this, who’s struggling, who feels inspired to go get help, then this is all worthwhile. I’m really sad that the equivalent of a medical school class of doctors commit suicide every year, like one doctor a day. And I think part of it is that we don’t know how to ask for help. We’re afraid to ask for help. We’re afraid that our license will be taken away if we ask for help. And, you know, there are some states I will put it out there. There are some states that are crazy, that are like have you ever needed help? Okay, go away. Massachusetts is not one of those. Thank goodness. So

 

Will Bachman  37:48

learn to say no and take a pottery class.

 

Geneve Allison  37:52

Learn to say no and figure out what you need. And if that’s poverty, then go for it.

 

Will Bachman  37:58

Thank you so much for being here. Thank you will

 

Geneve Allison  38:01

take care. Bye