Healing the Healer

  Developing Your Own Health Plan

Mark Twain once said, “The physician who knows only medicine, knows not even medicine.” In order to be skillful in the art of health and healing we need to start with ourselves. Your first patient is you. If you continuously explore how you define your own health, you will be more present and successful in helping your patients do the same. And more importantly, you will be more happy and fulfilled in your life’s work.

On average, we spend 7 years after college learning how to facilitate health for others. Very little of this time is spent learning how to do this for ourselves. The following activity is a tool that will help you with this exploration. It is only for you and will not be saved or reproduced in any way.

How we define our health is not something that remains constant over time. It is malleable and will change as you do. But there are some core underlying ingredients that should always be addressed throughout your career. This health plan will help you understand the importance of defining how these play a role in your life.

There are many influences on health, but for simplicity we will have you focus on five:

  • Lifestyle: Physical Activity, Healthy Behaviors
  • Nutrition
  • Family History
  • Mind-Body: Stress Management, Emotional Health, Social Connection
  • Spirituality: Finding a connection that results in meaning & purpose in your work

The materials on this website were made possible by Grant Number 1 R25 AT0 0529-01A1 from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NCCAM), the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The contents are solely the responsibility of the EDCAM project staff and contributors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCCAM or NIH.

Developing the Health Plan


What activities do you love doing? (This may be a hobby, sport or recreational activity. Whatever it is, it should create excitement, passion and joy.





Describe your ideal physical activity and how in an ideal world, it would fit into your lifestyle.




Are there any habits you have that you would like to change? This could be something like binge eating/drinking, biting your fingernails or spending too much time in front of the computer or TV.




What is your relationship with food? (Do you eat when you are under stress or nervous? Do you get so busy that you skip meals? Do you hate to cook? Do you see food as just something that keeps your body going?


How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat a day?  



What areyour sources of omega-3 fatty acids? 



Are there foods you crave and eat a lot of? 



How much caffeine do you consume each day? 



What is your Body Mass Index (BMI)? How to calculate your BMI



Are there any diseases that run in your family?



CDC Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
CDC Family History and Preventive Health



List those people whom you love and care for deeply in your life?



What can you do to help these relationships grow?




Think of a relationship that has been strained or one where you have been hurt. What could you do to resolve these feelings within you?




What are the three top sources of stress in your life?



Are there events that have created a lot of emotion within you that you feel have not been fully expressed?




There can be significant benefit from expressing repressed emotions in a positive way if you are ready to do so.

A quote that symbolizes the importance of this process is by a pathologist, William Boyd, MD. At the turn of the 20th century he said, “The sorrow that hath no vent in tears may make other organs weep.


What do you do to relax or wind down?



Incorporating a “centering practice” into your lifestyle can be very helpful to get our minds out of the chaos of life. Regular practice can help us become less reactive to stress. With this we can learn to be in the midst of chaos and still be calm in our heart. This can take many forms such as meditation, breath work, prayer, art and exercise. The key is that we do something to drop below the chaos of thought to a place where we become more connected with a common place of peace we all share.
What are your sources of laughter and joy?
*Anandarajah G, Hight E: Spirituality and medical practice: Using the HOPE questions as a practical tool for spiritual assessment. Am Fam Phys 63:81-88, 2001.


What are your sources of meaning, hope, strength, peace, love and connectedness? (When life is getting you down, where do you find strength?)



Do you consider yourself part of an organized religion or spiritual practice?



What aspects of your spiritual practice do you find most helpful?



How do these beliefs affect the kind of medicine you would like to practice?


If life was perfect and had no restrictions, what would it look like for you?


Based on the things you stated above that give you meaning and purpose in your life, write down three goals that you would like to work towards in the next year?


List three goals that you would like to work towards in 10 years.


It is about the question?? As you can see, there are more questions than answers in the spirituality section. It is important that you realize that in exploring spiritual connection, the only “right” answer is the one you find for yourself. According to Greg Plotnikoff MD, “Spirituality is not something you give to patients. It is something you help them find. It is about questions, not answers.”