Gracias. Merci. Danke schön. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!

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Random question: How many ways can you think of to say thank you? Seriously. Even if you’re not multilingual, I’m sure you know the phrase “thank you” in more languages than English.

Gracias. Merci. Danke schön. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto! How many other words do you know in that many languages? It’s no accident. Gratitude is valued in just about every culture. It’s something we’re taught as children — mind your manners, say please, say thank you. But as an adult, I have come to find that gratitude is so much more than something I am supposed to feel or verbally express. It’s more like “Namaste.”

In Sanskrit, the term Namaste is often misinterpreted to mean “thank you.” Literally translated, Namaste actually means “I bow to you” — but not just in the physical sense. It means, “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom, and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.” I know, I know — suuuuper cheese balls. But seriously, Namaste is a gesture of gratitude and respect between two parties — gratitude for their sharing of energy and peace, and an acknowledgement that we are all one when we live from the heart, aware of the gift of life we have each been given.

For me, October marks the end of what has been an incredible journey as your president, an experience that has challenged me and allowed me to grow in ways I could never have imagined. It brought me some of the most amazing people I will ever meet and has given me opportunities I didn’t know existed! As I look back on my time on the board and in residency, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, with this feeling of “Namaste.”

My co-residents, faculty, nurses, and all the staff at UCSF Fresno — the most loving and supportive family I could have ever been given. Your willingness to support each other and me through the toughest and most stressful parts of our training is second to none. You taught me even the worst days can end great if you remember to step back and look at the amazing people who really are in this with you. You made me the doctor I am today, and I will spend forever doing my best to make you proud.

The EMRA Board, Committee & Division leaders, Program Reps, Reps to ACEP Committees, and countless members who have touched my life this year — you inspire me! While my Fresno family kept me grounded, you kept me dreaming big, even in light of all the craziness happening in our government and our world. There is nothing more motivating than talking to and working with all of you, hearing your passion and seeing your drive to better emergency medicine and healthcare in general. It gives me hope for the future of our specialty and a certainty that we will make a difference.

EMRA Staff — there are no words to adequately express what we owe you for what you do for us, our training, and our specialty. We seriously have THE. BEST. STAFF. EVER. Thank you for keeping me honest, helping me grow as a leader, and supporting me as a human being.

And to our ED patients everywhere thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your physician. For trusting me when you feel most vulnerable. For letting me into your personal bubble and sharing your story with me. For teaching me the surprises and subtleties of medicine, and constantly reminding me of my humanity — of the sacred transient nature of life, of my absolute inability to know it all, and of the desperate need we all have for one another. Every day you show me why I chose emergency medicine and why I am beyond privileged to be an emergency physician.

In case it isn’t ridiculously obvious, what I’m trying to say is — THANK YOU. Each and every one of you. Thank you for letting me represent you, for trusting me to be your voice and to stand up for you, our training, and our patients.

Namaste, amigos!

Alicia Kurtz, MD

Alicia Kurtz, MD

EMRA President, Chief Resident, UCSF Fresno, Fresno, CA, @aliciakurtz_md
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