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Time to Be Grateful

November 23, 2023
by Mark David Siegel

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.

-Maya Angelou

-Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

Hi everyone,

I’ve long assumed that if I were less busy, I’d pay better attention to my blessings- that if I were somehow released from emails, paperwork, meetings, projects, phone calls, and emergencies, I’d magically notice my fortune. But that’s not how gratitude works.

We must reserve time for gratitude, to open our eyes, listen, and pay attention. This is our responsibility today, if only for a moment: to pause, inhale, and give thanks.

Here’s what I’m grateful for:

For everyone who

Puts patients first,


Strives to solve problems,


Speaks honestly and constructively,


Shows respect,

Cherishes difference,

Creates peace,

And leads with kindness.

Most of all, I’m thankful for every one of you who devotes your life to preventing illness, curing when you can, and healing with gentle words and touch. Your work is sacred.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and special thanks to everyone working today. We’ll be celebrating the holiday at the Fig Cooking School, where Heide and the girls are cooking up a feast.


PS- Program Director’s Notes will return on Sunday, December 3.

PPS- Our annual gratitude cornucopia from residents, faculty, and alumni:

I am grateful for many blessings in life for my family, and I. And in these challenging and demoralizing months, I feel grateful for having role models like you, who lead by example to promote dialogue, thoughtfulness, humanity, and peace. May the world see more peace, dignity, and prosperity for all.

-Behnood Bikdeli

I’m so thankful for our 10 fabulous Neuro prelims. They have shone on their neurology rotations, they are all in for the recruitment season, and they have been such an amazing support for each other. Can’t wait to have them on our team full time!

-Jeremy Moeller

I am incredibly grateful that I am allowed to live and work in a place where we truly treasure every individual. It is a gift that often seems a luxury and comes with the responsibility to live by example.

-Stephanie Halene

I am thankful for my family and friends, of course, but for my professional thanks, I am thankful for you, whose wisdom, guidance, and passion for the Program I admire, value, and treasure, and from which I get inspiration to be my best self. I am thankful for GME and everyone who advises and supports us. I am thankful for my co-APDs, whom I love. I am thankful for this year's Chiefs, whom I treasure. I am thankful for our residents, who are curious and diligent and who also inspire me to be my best self. I am very lucky to be working with all of these smart, wonderful, hard-working people who inspire me and am thankful for that!

-Cindy McNamara

I am grateful for being healthy

I am grateful for being safe

I am grateful for having a good job

I am grateful for working with good people

I am grateful for having a family

I am grateful for my friends

In a sentence: I am grateful for being healthy, being safe, having a good job, working with good people, having a family, having friends.

Thanks so much for all your do, Dr. Siegel. Thank you for having me in our program. I am honored to be here!

-Baha Simsek

I'm thankful to be experiencing this challenging and transformative training with my best friend and fiancée, Mary. She gives all of her patients the most thoughtful and kind care, and then somehow, she still has the energy to be the best partner every day. On top of that, I don't know what I did to deserve such a loving and fun residency family, but I'm so thankful for you all! So many lifelong friendships have bloomed despite the lack of sunlight in the Coleman workroom.

-Ben Chipkin

I am thankful for being alive, after receiving medical care at YNHH and Gaylord Specialty Healthcare for many months in 2022.

-Richard Sutton

I'm thankful to be in a program that welcomes and embraces all kinds of individuals, from near and far, that makes going to work every day worth it!

-Julian Azar

I am grateful for family, friends, colleagues, trainees, students, and my patients - all of who have taught me more than they could imagine over the years and have molded me into the person I now am. Thank you one and all!

-Debbie Proctor

This Thanksgiving I am feeling grateful about the gift of life itself. Personally, I had spent a significant amount of time in a very busy hospital taking care of critically ill patients back in my home country. After spending a few years in a lab, I feel I return to the hospital setting a lot more mature and realizing that, no matter where you are or what culture/beliefs you may have, at the end of the day life is a gift. The deep love and grieving that we experience alongside our patients and their families is the same anywhere on this earth and it is what makes each journey on this earth so special.

-Laura Onuchic

I'm thankful for great friends, loving family, and amazing colleagues. And for being able to take time away to spend Thanksgiving with family this year.

-Ben Rodwin

Gotta be new family!

-Hayden Pacl (aka “Dad”)

Having a family member in the hospital really makes me appreciate the attentiveness, clinical reasoning, and hard work of our housestaff and attendings. We may not always get this as feedback, but high quality patient care is priceless to our patients and their families. This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for our Yale community and how hard they work for our patients. For those ever on the other side of that patient care, you know how meaningful that can be.

-Isabel Bazan

I am extremely thankful and grateful for my family, always being there – especially my husband – my two children and 5 grandchildren. All of them keep me going, staying young and happy!! I’m also thankful for the fact that all of us in this institution are always so supportive of each other! I hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving!!

-Rosemarie Fisher

I am thankful for the daily opportunity to work with amazing people.

-Aram Bidikian

‘As the season approaches, I reflect on spending the fourth Thanksgiving away from my physical home in Quito, Ecuador. Nevertheless, through these years I've discovered a sense of home in new memories, places, music, and friendships. The first part of my intern year has passed, and I've encountered challenges that have pushed me and support that has uplifted me in unprecedented ways. I’m grateful for my seniors and attendings who have not only become mentors but also friends, guiding me towards my aspirations. Moreover, I’m grateful for my coresidents who have provided an unparalleled sense of camaraderie. Beyond all this, because I've found something truly profound—a new family. As I settle in, I’m grateful because residency is gradually becoming more than a part of medical training; it's starting to feel like home.

-Sebastians Sanchez

I am grateful for the warmth and compassion of the Yale IM community. I am also grateful for my patients, who continually humble me both through their ability to challenge by diagnostic acumen and their gratitude for the simplest aspects of life despite grave challenges.

-Mellisa Pensa

I am grateful for my wife who has been my primary source of support, all while overcoming multiple obstacles and pursuing the next phase of her career.

I am grateful for my co-interns, seniors, and mentors (new friends) who make residency much more fun and have always been there for me whenever I needed their help.

-Abdelrahman Abushouk

I am grateful to have true friends who lent an ear to me when I needed it. At one point in my life when I felt lost, they were the ones who reminded me of who I am and what I am capable of.

-Elmira Esmaeilzadeh

These are sad and difficult days for humanity. There is so much unnecessary suffering and cruelty and death. It is so easy for each of us to feel that tribal urge, to side with our own and despise and blame “the other”. Regretfully, many have. Not here at Yale. I am grateful to be in a place where almost everyone around me chooses to emphasize our shared humanity. To “hold everyone’s humanity”, to feel the pain and heartbreak on all sides, and offer peace and solace to everyone, regardless. Refuse to take sides. Refuse to dehumanize. This is what I have felt these past few weeks among my Yale family.

I am wholeheartedly thankful for it.

-Tina Saber

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on November 23, 2023