Your Professional Path Through Your "Archetype": Shaman,
Warrior, Artist, Chief, Nurturer, Mystic?
Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
start the new year with some esoteric stuff, dear Daring Doctors. For
those of you who want to hear tips on career development, tune in next
month. For those of you who want to explore the edge as you do
"inner development," keep reading.
start of the new year led me into a new (recurrent) adventure of mind/soul
exploration with my own coach as we spent three days of quality time
exploring the concept that every person has a "destiny." This
led to further inquiry about "what is the significance of my having
become a physician?" and how is this related to my
is the Significance of Your Having Become a Physician?
I will pose the same question to you: What is the significance
of your having become a physician and how does it relate to your "soul
many of my readers, and several of my clients, the reason we are
working together is because your "professional" life has taken a
significant turn---or is about to. In other words, you are either a) questioning
whether the professional road you're on is one you want to stay on, or b) you are already
embarking on a "new road" and we're navigating the bumps, or c)
you were abruptly bumped off the road you thought was "the one"
is the task that I want to challenge you with: look at your road in
medicine and the choices you've made, or the twists in the road that you
didn't plan on, and find the major clues that point to your
"essence." Your essence is the your "true self"
which points to your "destiny."
Have Some Fun With "Archetypes"
common "metaphysical" approach to looking at "essence" and
"destiny" is to uncover your "archetype."
The work of Carl Jung and his 16 archetypes is familiar to many of you who
are psychologists, psychiatrists, or to those of you who have taken a
Myers Briggs personality profile. However, even before Carl Jung,
various "archetypes" and mythological personalities have referred to in various cultures and religions for
over a thousand years as a means to explain the mystery of human existence. Numerology has been used as tool to arrive at or calculate
aspects of the archetype or "destiny" and is still a tool for
modern followers of Kabbalah and I Ching.
is much more to learn about this topic than I can provide here, but I
thought it would be fun to "borrow" a few archetypes from various
disciplines to see if you recognize yourself in one or more of them.
Here we go:
(aka Curandera) - This is the path of the holistic healer, who
incorporates intuitive information along with observable facts.
Mind, soul and body are one and the same. As a physician, has it
been your desire to integrate all three and serve as a Shaman? Have
you been frustrated by the reality that modern medical practice does
not support this notion (either through practice convention or
reimbursement). Is medicine leaving you drained because it has
become so tactical and procedural, and lacking in soul-connectedness with
- This is the path of trailblazers and those who step up first to fight
for the cause. Have you found yourself in positions where you are
the voice of dissent? Are you generally on the front line rallying your
physician colleagues to stand up for their rights? Or, alternatively, have
you been accused of "starting a fight" for no good reason, or
being inappropriately confrontational? Warriors without a legitimate
battle often find themselves in trouble.
- This is the path for those to see, hear and perceive beauty and the
quintessence of human experience through various media. The creative
mind, eye or hand require self-expression, which may have limited outlets
in clinical practice or healthcare management. Artists without the time
for or means of expression find themselves longing and
- This is the path for those who want to be in charge, who can see a
way, a plan, a strategy and relish in creating stability, organization or
movement. Chiefs without a large enough organization or constituency may
be frustrated by their inability to impact. In healthcare,
fortunately there are many outlets for Chief archetypes.
- This is the path for the caring "earth mother/father/parent"
whose drive is to comfort, protect and nourish
the flock. In medicine there are many of these archetypes, and they
often do well. Nurturers avoid conflict, however, in their
quest to create harmony and will find themselves at odds when situations
are overly complex, ambiguous or aggressive.
- This is the path of the philosopher and spiritual seeker, who likely has
experienced much angst and soul-torment along his/her professional road
---this is often the way to enlightenment. The Mystic delights in
observing the complexity of the universe and our place in it, and so may
tire of the constraints and routine of clinical care. Mystics are
often misunderstood as unrealistic visionaries, or aloof
that these are only a handful of archetypes, and my interpretation and
application for physicians is dangerously brief, so don't panic if you don't
find yourself here or if you don't like what you hear. My point is:
dare to look at your professional path as a soul journey, and perhaps one
that other "archetypes" have taken before you. Learning about
archetypes will help you understand yourself better and put your current
professional fork-in-the-road in a different perspective.
R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE is an executive coach and business consultant.
She is president of The Gaillour Group and director of Creative Strategies in Physician
Leadership. Dr. Gaillour is a professional speaker on healthcare leadership,
technology and cultural change.
She can be reached at