My name is Kara. I am a physician, friend, traveler, lover of food, music and laughter…and a bona fide wise-ass. My desire to start this blog started as I began to transition out of years of intense professional training into what I hope to be a more balanced and fun lifestyle. I am on a quest to make up for all those countless, draining hours spent studying in the library and those long days and late nights surrounded by the white walls of the hospital, by exploring the world and finally living my life. My blog focuses on what I’m loving in life right now…which is mostly travel and photography. Although, there will be a peppering of other topics as related to my life and other interests.
While I have had several amazing travel experiences over the years, most of my life, up until recently, was devoted to becoming a doctor. Experiencing burnout early in my residency training, I began to look for any opportunity to travel as a means of release and rejuvenation. I set my sights on that light at the end of the tunnel, where I could leave the hospital behind and spend more time working with under-served communities and nurturing my other interests, such as travel, yoga, learning another language, etc.
When I reached this light at last, I decided to sidestep the conventional route of getting a job in the clinical world, and instead build onto my professional training in a more creative, or as some would say unconventional, setting. I decided to seek a Masters in Public Health focused in Community Health Promotion and to begin a fellowship program focusing on primary care and academic pediatrics, hoping to gain skills that would make me more effective in promoting positive change within the communities that I serve, will serve, and want to serve. These two years allowed me the opportunity to work and learn from so many talented and inspiring people and to learn about leadership, teaching, community work, research, and health promotion of youths, particularly in more progressive ways than I had been exposed to prior. Through this fellowship, I made great friends, lasting professional relationships, and completed my first research project, which turned into my first publication!
However, not too many months after beginning this program, I found myself in another tunnel, albight a more roomy, comfortable tunnel. I enjoyed the work that I was involved in and the opportunities to learn from some really wonderful minds. But, I felt restless and stressed…all the time.
So, in addition to working, I began to focus more on taking time for myself. I started cooking more, going out to see live music with friends, and I took a photography class at our wonderful Minneapolis College of Art and Design (Nathan Lewis, you are ah-mazing!).
I began to travel whenever I had the chance. It was not until I had finished my medical boards (both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics for this gunner…stress x a kazillion…x 2) that I realized, “This burnout is no joke.” So I decided to spend some time in Belize, mostly on an island called Caye Caulker, relaxing, learning to scuba dive, drinking rum, making friends, watching wonderful sunsets, and intermittently doing work (mandatory!) at a relaxed pace next to the seashore. It was during this month that I decided in order to stop this cycle of chasing the light at the end of the tunnel I needed to really figure out a way to incorporate more travel into my life. Travel for joy. Travel for passion. Travel for adventure.
My fellowship concluded June 2012, and since, I’ve been working hard (urgent care shift work) so I can play hard! I’ve always thought that I’d ultimately return to a primary care practice in the U.S. working in a community health center using both my medical and public health training to care for patients individually and to have impact on a larger scale within my communities. Yet, I really enjoy the flexibility and freedom that comes with working in urgent care. From the experience of my past few years, I’ve learned that the best experiences and decisions come from an open mind and a flexible path. I’m excited to see what the future holds…and to share it with you!
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” — Hunter S. Thompson
Last significant update, 2014. Few photos added, 2016.