After 20 years of working long hours in the ICU at Cooper University Health Care in Camden, Dr. Stephen Trzeciak realized that he was burned out. So he started looking for answers.
That search eventually led to his new book, Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself (St. Martin’s). It explains how showing compassion can be a life-changing therapy for everyone, as both a remedy for burnout and loneliness and a way to live our lives in a more fulfilling way.
The book, cowritten with his colleague, Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli, an emergency medicine physician and copresident & CEO of Cooper University Health Care, expands their philosophy beyond healing health care providers, which they wrote about in their first book.
“After that book, we got letters and phone calls from people who said they also shared that experience,” says Trzeciak, chair of medicine at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and chief of medicine at Cooper University Health Care. “We realized that more human connection and leaning into relationships is the key to resilience.”
In med school, he says, students are taught to keep their distance from patients and not get involved emotionally.
But he found that doctors and nurses who had more compassion for patients reported higher levels of well-being.
“I teach my med students and residents about this power, saying, ‘What do you want to be remembered for?’ Every time I go into a patient’s room, I say to myself: They may never forget this moment,” he says.
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