Leslie Tim, MD is an internal medicine physician at Associated Internal Medicine (AIM) in Oakland. Dr. Tim is not only an excellent physician, but was nominated for her whole-hearted embracing of mindfulness practices. For those of you who don’t know Dr. Tim, she seemingly does everything with passion and with 110% effort. When UHA launched a Mindful Leadership program last, Dr. Tim was invited to join. She’s been thoughtful and dedicated in learning and really implementing mindfulness into her work.
Dr. Tim was nominated for a Wellness Spotlight by Dr. Rachel Seaman, the Medical Director of the Provider Wellness Program at UHA. Leslie truly exemplifies wellness by taking efforts to improve her own well-being and that of her patients seriously. Her dedication to mindfulness and sharing stories about how she applies it to patient care have been an inspiration to the many of us that are lucky to work with her.
WELL@UHA sat down with Dr. Tim and asked her to share how she is able to incorporate mindfulness into her life. Thank you, Dr. Tim for your honest and open answers — you’re an inspiration and we’re proud to spotlight you!
Q. How do you apply what you’ve learned about mindfulness to your work as a physician?
A. There are so many ways, I can just give a few examples.
-If I am feeling rushed or frustrated and aware of it, I can decide to be kind.
-If patients are having stress in the office and have elevated blood pressure , I sometimes do a 3 minute mindfulness practice with them on my phone on focus (while I am typing on their chart). The deep breathing quiets their blood pressure and then we can have a discussion of effects of stress on blood pressure and they can see the difference.
-If patients are late and I don’t judge them, but just am present, it is amazing how much better the visit goes for both of us. I found that being critical uses up energy and makes me unkind.
-By learning to be focused, with the practice, I am able to lean into difficult things or things that require concentration, especially when I feel anxious; and I get more done.
-I share the acceptance mantra* on my phone with patients, as appropriate.
*The acceptance mantra is “If you can solve the problem, what need is there to worry? If you can’t solve the problem, what need is there to worry? When you experience difficulties – change it or leave it. But don’t start an inner fight about it. Don’t make it heavy or solid. It is the way it is. Accept it with any easy going attitude. Expand the acceptance towards yourself. Take it easy, it is good enough. (The Potential Project)
Q. What’s the biggest benefit you experience from practicing mindfulness?
A. More joy in the practice of medicine and not being taken down by stuff that happens. If I do get derailed, and I do, I am aware of it sooner and take action to correct it sooner.
Q. What keeps you motivated to stick with it when times get busy?
A. If I don’t do it, my mind is more cluttered and it is more difficult to concentrate and focus, and it takes longer to do things.
Q. If you were talking with someone who’s never tried mindfulness meditation, what would you say is the #1 benefit?
A. Mindfulness is not just being aware, it is being aware and able to take the next step to counteract the critical thought, the anxious thought, the frustration, the dwelling too long on what bothered me; to be able to pause before taking the next action and decide what is the best course of action. All of this is transforming to taking care of patients, being part of a team, dealing with change and disappointment and challenges.
Q. Other than mindfulness, what brings you joy?
A. Spending time with family and friends, helping people, cooking, and learning new things.
Congratulations to Dr. Leslie Tim!