Playing Like a Champion

The Notre Dame Football team hits this sign before every home game.

In the journey to define my career, I often lose perspective. It is in these moments my Mom has said, “Rhea, play such that you can win.” After watching my favorite college football team ascend to the number one position in the nation – following a season of hard-fought (and let’s face it, sometimes ugly) wins – I have a new take on my Mom’s sage words.

How you play is what defines you and winning is a result of the process. So what does it mean to play like a champion? And how do you position yourself for success?

So far, I’ve learned this much.

1. Play (read live) with a resolution to do your best. Sometimes your best will be greatness and sometimes it will just be good enough. As an intern, sometimes my best was just showing up and being open to learning something new (which can feel overwhelming when everything seems new). Now as a 3rd year, my best has evolved to include the clinical skills I’ve worked to form throughout residency. The product is different but the process is the same.

2. Your team matters. “Play like a champion” is essentially an individualistic mantra, but who you surround yourself with directly affects your ability to succeed. Fill your circle with people (mentors, colleagues, friends) who value you, see your greatness, and challenge you to be your best.

3. Don’t be afraid to stand alone. While the team helps you get there, the journey is personal. Listen to your instincts and be confident in your convictions. My good friendĀ  Peter always says, “To win big, you gotta risk big” – and sometimes that risk is going at it alone.

4. Champions are born from adversity. If my training experience has taught me anything, it is this: Achieving your goals is inherently hard work and sometimes the meaning is buried in the mess. Success is an iterative process and failure is a necessary step in the journey. In the tough moments, remember that it may get ugly, but you are on the right track.

So let’s play like champions this week and reach for our greatness!


And so it begins


This is a picture I took of a trail in Clemmons, North Carolina.

The road to be a doctor is fraught with many dangers, toils, and snares (through many of which I’ve already come). Now, 7th months shy of another ending, I feel ready and yet totally unprepared for what lies ahead. It’s not that I feel clinically unprepared (although I know I still have a lot to learn), it’s that I’m still unsure of my path, even as I am starting it. After fighting off the beast of residency, I feel like I just want to pick up the scraps of myself and walk out whole.

And here I am. At a new beginning. A new path. A new start. But as I speculate about leaving academic medicine, essentially all I’ve ever known, and try to forge a way for myself into the world of policy and health innovation and social justice work to get about the business of reshaping and re-envisioning the future for impoverished children and families in our country, I find myself feeling more lost than ever and afraid I won’t find my way.

And so it begins, my blog and my hopefulness – my start to reconciling my passion for justice with my training in clinical medicine, and all the little things that happen along the way. Rhea. MD. This is who I am. And this is what I do.