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 Conversations with Leaders in Self-Care: How Health Workers Can Promote Self-Care 
Interview with John W Travis MD, MPH
   as interviewed by Tom Ferguson MD

TF: It seems to me you've been getting more and more interested in the changes that are taking place for the health professional. Is that true?

JT: Yes. I'm interested in self-care from the point of view of the professionals who are groping, who see the problem, and in order to deal with the problem, have to grow themselves. If they grow, it's going to rub off on their clients. Besides, once they open up real communications, they might find that some of their clients are a lot more grown up than they are.

I think the biggest lesson in this whole thing, personally, is an ego lesson. First of all, learning to handle power I never expected to have to deal with. I thought I was starting a nice, quiet two-person private practice in Mill Valley. I'd never heard of holistic health when I moved here. Then, suddenly, I got plunged right into the center of a movement. It's done a lot for my own growth. It's gotten me to look at my own feelings of competitiveness, of jealousy. Every time somebody else gets invited to a conference and I don't, there's that thought: Why wasn't I invited?

I guess you need an ego to establish self-identity and purpose and determination. And then you have to learn to give it up. You outgrow it. At least sometimes you outgrow it.

One of my own focuses now is dealing with my own burnout, as a result of all this running around speaking and doing conferences. At a workshop recently, a friend took me aside and said "John, a little loving concern. People have been saying how tired you look!" I was a little defensive at the time, but I think he's right. I spend most of my day with phone calls and meeting people. A lot of it's gotten to be not really as satisfying as I could wish it to be. So I'm cutting back a little, learning to take my own time, to choose pleasure for myself.

It really does come back to taking care of yourself in the end.

© Tom Ferguson, M.D.

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 About The Author
Tom Ferguson, M.D. (1943-2006), was a pioneering physician, author, and researcher who virtually led the movement to advocate informed self-care as the starting point for good health. Dr. Ferguson studied and wrote......moreTom Ferguson MD
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