Osler Symposia - Wellbeing Retreats

$405 of $76,980 goal

Raised by 5 people in 37 months
The body of literature about physician burnout (and physician suicide) and its ramifications is overwhelming.






It will take the engagement of all sectors of the healthcare world—and, frankly, all of us—to stem this tide. We must come together, and work together, for the greater good: from medical schools and teaching hospitals, to healthcare organizations, to insurance companies, to professional associations, to practicing physicians, and to the citizenry, i.e. patients themselves.

For we, and our loved ones, will all be patients at various times in our lives, and will want—and expect—the care of healthy, fully-engaged, dedicated doctors and nurses.

"In no relationship is the physician more often derelict than in his duty to himself." ~ Sir William Osler

Well-Being Weekends for Physicians & Nurses
The symposia are continuing medical education programs solely focused on the health and well-being of physicians and nurses. They were developed to meet the needs of all practicing clinicians who may be tired, frustrated, and/or disconnected personally or professionally, and who want to restore balance and joy in their lives.

(The Osler Symposia are named for Sir William Osler (1849-1919), the father of Modern Medicine. His thoughts and words were the guiding light in their development, and they continue to teach and inspire physicians the world over still today.)

The Osler Symposia is a California nonprofit corporation.

The Osler Symposia was formed to create a safe place for physicians and nurses to gather, learn, and re-embrace their calling.

We envision healthy, happy physicians and nurses, et al, committed to their patients, hopeful about the future, and eager to recommend their professions to their children and grandchildren.

Through meaningful education and the formation of old-fashioned communities, the Osler Symposia address the real and documented crisis of physician burnout resulting in doctors leaving their careers in droves. The weekend retreats serve as a much-needed antidote to rampant cynicism and hopelessness that have overtaken today’s narrative and "cafeteria" conversations.

By providing a safe space—and sufficient time— for physicians and nurses to gather and confront the huge issues and challenges facing the majority of today’s healthcare workforce; and by teaching useful tools and practices that will help alleviate professional and moral distress and heal open wounds; following the retreat, participants will return to their daily lives fortified, hopeful, and recommitted to their patients and their work.

"Those who are at greatest risk for burnout are those who are the most dedicated and committed to their work." ~ Tait Shanafelt, MD, Mayo Clinic

The idea began as a fleeting thought in 1986 while summarizing participant evaluations from UC San Diego’s Wilderness Medicine CME conference in Colorado. The comments were unique. For example, a pediatrician wrote he liked sitting between a trauma surgeons and radiologist. But the most significant, common theme was how they felt renewed and energized about their profession. “I haven’t felt this good about being a doctor in 20 years. Thank you.”

That was an unintended consequence. We asked ourselves why, and concluded it was the combination of a stellar, passionate faculty, unique medical and non-medical topics, the beautiful location, time to play—as well as learn—and the camaraderie and friendships that were formed.

I started pondering a question. Using the Wilderness Medicine program model, if we intentionally created a well-being conference for physicians that addressed their stresses and frustrations by providing tools, hope, inspiration, and fun… would they come?

It wasn't until 2009, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated and the looming shortage of physicians took center stage, that I was able to get the attention of several key physicians who agreed to work with me in developing physician well-being conferences.

Two critically-acclaimed Osler Symposia were subsequently produced in 2011 & 2012; they received overwhelmingly positive reviews. (See below.)

Because neither conference was adequately funded—combined with the fact there was no traditional way to target burned-out physicians and nurses—our marketing efforts were woefully ineffective. Looking back, we realize now how fortunate we were to attract as many as we did.

Emergency physician & humanitarian...and my friend, Sam Slishman, MD, personally covered the significant loss for the 2011 program. I used all but $9,000 of my modest retirement savings to pay the excess 2012 bills. I have no regrets. The second conference proved we were not a one-hit-wonder as acknowledged by those who attended. Our confidence was reinforced that we were providing much-needed, meaningful programs. Start-up funding was our only (albeit huge) challenge.

I worked hard the past three years to get back on my feet financially. During that time, I continued reading; thinking deeply; reaching out to potential, like-minded collaborators; and building relationships.

At the end of July, I knew the time had come to take a leap of faith. I quit my demanding job so I could single-mindedly focus on and dedicate myself to securing corporate sponsors, and identifying philanthropists, and individual donors to re-launch the Osler Symposia in 2016.

As of September 11, 2015, The Osler Symposia is a California nonprofit corporation.

It's important to note, the previous symposia were multi-day events, requiring air travel for most attendees, and multiple days away from work. The 2016 programs will be weekend retreats in cities around the country. This format will neutralize the marketing challenges and minimize the costs to attend.

By identifying local leaders and partners within healthcare organizations, medical societies, and professional organizations, we can directly reach doctors and nurses in their communities. We already have verbal commitments from key proponents in four US cities.

If we succeed in securing the necessary start-up funding, we’re set to produce retreats in San Diego, CA and Baltimore, MD in Spring 2016, and in Rochester, NY and Tampa, FL next Fall.

"Leaders may inspire, but only when the people decide to act does the leader's vision become a movement."
~ Simon Sinek, author and leader, Start With Why

This GoFundMe campaign is a vehicle whereby individuals can acknowledge the serious problem of Physician Burnout and show their support that something—many things—need to be created to help physicians and nurses BEFORE they decide to leave medicine. It will take everyone. It will take a movement.

The financial goal, $76,980, will cover start-up and operating expenses for seven months. It will allow our organization to pay me a salary of $2,500 per month, hire part-time admin support, re-design our inactive website, secure the services of a social media professional to ramp up our Facebook page and expand to other platforms, apply for CME credit with UC San Diego School of Medicine, and engage the services of an accountant and tax preparer to meet our nonprofit organizational requirements.

The Osler Symposia are not a panacea that will solve all problems and negate all annoyances that physicians and nurses encounter every day... with a guarantee they will live happily ever after. Rather, the symposia are respites along the journey where colleagues come together to learn and be inspired & strengthened in a community—by the community—in order to return to their sacred work with renewed resolve and gratitude for the privilege.

And, most important, they will learn—maybe for the first time, because of the Conspiracy of Silence within the profession—they are not alone.

With commitment, sincerity, and gratitude,


Janice Mancuso
President and Founder
The Osler Symposia

“To have striven, to have made an effort, to have been true to certain ideals — this alone is worth the struggle. To prevent disease, to relieve suffering and to heal the sick– this is our work.” ~ Sir William Osler


“At the very top of my list of excellence in retreat-type programs for doctors are the Osler Symposia. I'm not attracted to conferences generally and usually try to avoid them. But when the Osler Symposia are not in session, I feel a hollow gap. I hope some visionary organization notices how valuable this program is and gives it the financial support it needs to continue its unique offering. And I hope doctors hear about the program and come in great number."
~ Thomas Moore (Author, "Care of the Soul" and "Care of the Soul in Medicine")

“Flourishing of the medical profession and of the medical professional is interlinked and directly impacts the quality of patient- centered care. The first Osler Symposium was the first that I have attended that spoke to the concerns and opportunities for both.”
~ Stephen Sergay, MD (Past President, American Academy of Neurology)

“The Osler Symposium made me re-examine my medical life. It substantially altered the way I practice and how I approach my professional responsibilities.”
~ Thomas Scalea, MD (Director of Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland)

“The symposium is unique in that it ‘speaks the unspeakable,’ in that it directly addresses the disappointment, disillusionment, and even despair that so many physicians feel, while at the same time offering both healing ideas and practices to create a healthier physician in mind, body, and spirit.”
~ Johanna Shapiro, PhD (Professor of Family Medicine; Director, Program in Medical Humanities & Arts; University of California, Irvine School of Medicine)

“I knew that if I was to continue being in my profession with all the changes we are now facing as physicians, I had to make a change. This conference grounded me again, giving me the tools to be happy and direct my life no matter what healthcare change throws my way.”
~ Dianna Tolen, MD (Pediatrician, Canfield, OH)

“I learned so many things … but most importantly, I think, was just the underlying premise of the conference that told us (finally) that *our* health and well-being as the providers are important and worthy of attention too! The urge to self-sacrifice is strong and we need to keep that in check in order to avoid burnout and social and family isolation. ... And if that magical sponsor steps out of the mist and picks up the banner of physician well-being, I will certainly attend the next one.”
~ Kim Carlson, MD (Internal Med, Mountain View, CA)

“In this time of transition in my medical career, the Osler Symposium has helped to reinforce my core values, reinvest in my mission, and reinvigorate the strength and courage for change.”
~ Jeffrey D. Miller, MD (Family Med, Albuquerque, NM)

“Not a day goes by that I do not think about that conference and the amazing speakers and breakout sessions and books and people and ideas and energy. I cannot even imagine how difficult pulling off a conference like that is and I want you to know that there will be abundant harvests from the seeds you have sown that you may never see or reap…nevertheless your work will bear fruit.”
~ Lauren Barron, MD (Medical Humanities Program, Baylor University)
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The next Osler Symposium Wellbeing Retreat will be held in San Diego, California, October 20-22, 2017.
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"As members of the healthcare community we have a gift in that we're able to be with people when they're at their most vulnerable, and actually help - or try to help.

Many times, at least in the US healthcare system, we feel like we're powerless to do that because we're hamstrung by everything around us. A lot of what I talk about is how horrible our system is and how it keeps from doing what we really went into medicine to do, but when you see something like this happen…

"We offer our solidarity and brotherhood with those men and women in France who are fighting to help."

~ Zubin Damania, MD (ZDoggMD)
Osler Symposia Faculty
ZDoggMD on Paris, Mr. Rogers, & Healers
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$405 of $76,980 goal

Raised by 5 people in 37 months
Created November 7, 2015
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6 months ago
nancy pando
37 months ago

Janice, Only the passionate, committed and most loving of souls hold the power to grow a mountain beneath their feet. Here's to the top of your Osler mountain.

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