I spend half my day convincing patients NOT to take unnecessary drugs….. and the other half convincing patients TO take necessary ones.

C. Oleksyn

shared by by prudencebrown121 via flickr


Just do it?

Winter is coming. Mornings are cold, and I gotta admit, I am getting lazy.

As the days get shorter every year, my motivation to be active does the same…I become less and less active until Spring arrives.

Part of this is the business of Winter. Hockey starts, school ramps up, my job is busier, too cold to run outside, etc. etc. But if I’m going to be honest, my lack of activity lies in my motivation.

via flickr by Sean Lloyd

The last few weeks I have given a lot of thought to my personal motivation. What has kept me running and working out this year and why do I gear down as the weather gets cold?

I started exploring by asking others what their motivation is.

Whenever I see a patient who has made radical changes in their lifestyle for the good of their health (eg: losing weight, quitting smoking, etc.) I always ask them what motivated them to change. I also asked various pharmacists and physicians what they thought the biggest motivator for healthy changes was. And yes, I asked friends and Tweeted it out as well.

Most responses landed in the realm of three main motivations.

1. Vanity

Undoubtedly the most popular reason people try and stay in shape. We want to look good and be attractive. When I asked Yoni Freedhoff about the motivation of his patients to lose weight, he replied that most say it is for health but he undoubtedly thought that vanity won out.

2- Health

Everyone knows that if you maintain a healthy body weight and keep your heart and lungs challanged with regular exercise you have less chance of developing diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer. I have seen patients come off a lot of medications after losing a significant amount of weight and incorporating exercise and healthy nutrition in their life.  Sometimes this comes as a medical “wake-up call”.  We all desire a long life and often are motivated to change when we truly realize that our lifestyle affects our health and life span.

3-For Others
Each of us have people in our lives that we love and want to be with for years to come.  Many people have told me that it was the birth of their child, a partner becoming healthier, or the realization that if they continued with their present lifestyle they would be reducing their own quality of life and potentially the years they have to be with those they love.  They want to see their children and grandchildren grow up.


My own motivation? A mix of fear and vanity. I have (for no particular reason other than knowing the statistics), a fear of breast cancer.  And I know that if I stay active my chances of developing cancer or of surviving a diagnosis both go down.

As for the vanity…..I do enjoy it when my clothes fit, and I’ve discovered that I also really like feeling strong.

So… love-hate relationship with my treadmill continues and I have given thought about how to keep from talking myself out of exercise.  Because really, I can always find an excuse not to do it!

To stay motivated I set goals for myself. They must be Achievable  in order to gain success.  And they must become more challenging over time. ie: Incremental. And since I hate the feeling of disappointing myself I usually work at reaching them.

Additionally, I have made an agreement with a friend involving regular exercise. It never hurts to have someone else to be accountable to….and someone to encourage you when you start coming up with creative excuses to not do it!

I would love to hear about what motivates you.

Tweeps on the Job

5 months ago if someone would’ve told me that I would be networking and using Twitter in my job, I would have laughed.  Not only did I think that Twitter was a silly  social networking site for following what the latest Hollywood stars were doing, but I actually had no idea how it worked.

cc licence flickr

cc licence flickr

5 months later and a not too steep learning curve has landed me with an invaluable resource.

For those of you who don’t know what Twitter involves, it is a networking tool to connect to others around the globe.  How it differs from Facebook is that you connect to people you don’t necessarily know but would like to connect to for reasons of common, professional or personal interest.  The “connecting” involves being able to read the posts or “Tweets” that those persons you follow put out there in the Twitter stream.

What that looks like is a constant moving stream of “posts” from people you’ve chosen to “follow”.   Posts can be links to learning articles, pictures, links to blogs, almost anything.  So, your Twitter stream is personalized to your choices of people to follow.

Those who know me would not be surprised to hear that I have no stars on my list of people I am connected to on Twitter (or Tweeps as they are sometimes called).  What I do have is a list of professionals in all branches of healthcare, education, politics and various other disciplines who provide me with a constantly changing source of learning.

There are days where I take a couple of minutes to check my Twitter feed and I stumble upon an article that answers just the question I’ve been rattling around with.  Other times a post has me thinking in a way that I would never have ventured into.

So, Twitter has become a learning network for me as well as a resource for my practice.  I am, in an instant, in contact with others not only in pharmacy, but in medicine, palliative care, cardiology, continuing education, etc.  Here’s an example of how Twitter has been invaluable in my job.

I was filling in at a rural pharmacy one afternoon when I had a patient bring me a prescription for a new drug.  When I checked the patient records I saw he was also on an anti-arrhythmia drug (for an abnormal heartbeat). Something bothered me about the prescription but nothing was flagging on my computer.  I searched all my usual references and could come up with no reason for my uncomfortable feeling.  I decided to give the very ill patient only a few tablets and planned to call him in a few hours to see how he was doing.  A few minutes later I grabbed my lunch and pulled up my Twitter

by Fillmore Photography

feed to peruse.  There in front of me, posted by 2 connections, was the FDA warning about the drug possibly making a certain type of arrhythmia worse.  The warning had just come out the day before, but in the US not Canada.   I called the patient’s doctor and discovered that the patient indeed had that type of arrhythmia so I was able to contact him and stop him from taking the medication.

Twitter has also provided me with valuable overseas connections.  Last week I received a call about a child receiving a potential overdose with a medication only found in the United Kingdom.  After futilely searching references and the internet,  and not finding the information I needed, I sent a Direct Message over Twitter to two pharmacists in the U.K. and in a matter of minutes they sent me all the information I needed.

It has taken time to develop the relationships I have made on Twitter but I have come to value them and depend on them in some cases.  I know that if I need to bounce a professional question off a colleague they are right there, just a click away.

And have I changed my profile and added a few stars to vicariously follow?  Afraid not.  Well, unless you count Rick Mercer as a Star.  Who says you can’t also have a few laughs?