Why I Need to Be Stoppable

Oct 5, 2023 | Humanizing Medicine, Leadership

I’ve just returned from a conference that for two years running has blown me away. The Women In Medicine Summit, held by the nonprofit founded by Dr. Shikha Jain (see photo), Women In Medicine, brings together women who are physicians, trainees, and medical students. We hear blow-your-socks-off keynotes, participate in engaging breakout sessions, and enjoy the camaraderie of being together.

I heard so many good ideas that my brain is still percolating.

What’s rising to the top at this moment is a tip shared by Dr. Kimberly Manning and Dr. Ashley McMullen, two amazing physicians who host a podcast called The Human Doctor. They spoke together, seated on comfy chairs at the front of the large conference room, about their friendship, the power of connection, and how to rise as women physicians who are underrepresented in medicine by nurturing connections. They shared many tips for moving ahead together. Here’s the one that REALLY got my attention:

“Be stoppable.”

You read that right. Drs. Manning and McMullen didn’t say, as many have, “Be unstoppable,” as in keep going, charge ahead, don’t let any obstacles halt your progress. They said, “Be stoppable.”

Dr. Manning went on to explain. Being stoppable means being someone whom people stop to ask for directions, for a quick chat, for help. Being someone whose body language says, I am present, I am here, I am open to connecting with you.

When away from home, how often am I stoppable? I’d say it’s more common for me to be hurrying, eyes on my phone or looking for the next place I need to be. As an introvert, I need to keep track of my social energy or crankiness will result, but that’s not the whole explanation. The truth is, it’s fear. Fear of the unknown, of being seen by people who don’t know me yet, of potential conflict or rejection.

Their conversation made me consider the costs of not being stoppable. How many life-enriching connections am I missing by moving like a juggernaut through life? How much deeper might my connections be if I were more stoppable?

Change is going to take time. I can’t transform my behavior overnight. But I can make a start. So, in view of all you trusted readers, I am planning an experiment. For the next week, I will:

  •       Use my phone in public only as absolutely needed 
  •       Leave more time for transitions so I am rushing less
  •       Look up
  •       Smile on purpose
  •       Put a reminder note on my car dashboard

This is a tricky one for me and I could really use some help, so please reach out with suggestions.

What tips do you have for me?
What can I add to my experiment?
How could I be more stoppable? 


Diane W. Shannon


Diane Shannon is an award-winning writer, author, and coach. Since leaving practice as a primary care physician due to burnout, she has worked to support physicians in achieving their personal and professional goals and to highlight the changes needed to reduce burnout, improve career satisfaction, and protect the bidirectional healing power of the patient-physician relationship.

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