Alumni Retreat

Physicians Leadership Academy (PLA) Graduates Connect in Nova Scotia

Graduates from each of three PLA classes (2015, 2016 & 2017) traveled to WindHorse Farm in Nova Scotia this Fall with four main purposes: to connect with one’s self, connect with each other, connect with nature, and to refresh their meditation practice.

Near La Have River at Wentzell Lake, WindHorse Farms is a part of the longest standing demonstration of sustainable forestry in Canada, and the perfect location for a Retreat of 10 PLA graduates. The group included Drs. Jeffrey Bell, Stephanie Costa, Carol Greco, Karen King, Jacob Liu, Elizabeth Lottes, Jason Meillo, Gina Moody, Brianne Plante, and Anita Somani. Also, joining in were Drs. Marc Parnes and Phil Cass.

The group arrived at Windhorse in the afternoon of September 15th and left on Monday afternoon the 18th.  Each morning, before breakfast, the group started off with meditation and meditation instruction given by Jim Drescher.  Over the course of the 3 days there were many opportunities to explore the beautiful Acadian Forest that makes up Windhorse Farm.  Some of the "forest time" was spent as people wished but there were also planned events such as:  the night forest walk, the all afternoon water walk, taking a nap in the moss of the forest and there was a wood fired sauna available if people wanted to fire it up.  Each forest activity had elements of learning about the ecology of the forest as mirrors into our own lives.  An example would be that learning about wealth from the forest perspective is great learning about what wealth could be on the human level.  The group also played a board game called "The Flow Game".  It is truly a board game but one that is loaded with opportunities for self-reflection and group input on important questions in the participants lives.  Each evening was enjoyed by sitting around the campfire with a glass of wine and enjoying everyone’s company.  The food was mostly harvested from the gardens at Windhorse and the items that were not, were locally sourced.  The chefs for the weekend provided wonderful food for all of the meals.  All felt rewarded by the company of the group, the place, the food and by the activities.

The PLA Windhorse Farm retreat was restorative from several perspectives.  My original intention was to de-stress in the beauty of remote wooded Nova Scotia, to reconnect with PLA colleagues, and to reinvigorate my mindfulness & meditation practice.  While those goals were certainly met, the deeper value of the retreat experience was the guided opportunity to search within one’s self, while in an environment of genuine trust & support of PLA leaders & physician colleagues. Karen King, MD

I had a phenomenal time at Windhorse. I have not had much previous experience with nature, but this was the perfect way to become more part of it in a secure environment. Everyone was incredibly open and being able to see each other's journey and struggle was a mirror to my own questions. Jim (Drescher) was an incredibly gracious host and I loved sleeping in the loft above the great room. I have become much more confident and regular in my meditation practice and continued to walk as a way to become closer to nature in Columbus. Jacob Liu, MD

For me, the trip affected me in multiple positive ways.  Firstly, it was a true "retreat", a get-away from my local surroundings, daily mental interruptions and distractions, to a peaceful, calming geography where I could become mindful of my place in life.  Secondly, the time with other leaders increased my connection with them and to gain different perspectives of leadership, which can be expressed in various forms and meanings.  Soaking up the energy and mindfulness from this group of special people was fun and informative.  Jeff Bell, MD

Our recent trip to Windhorse Farms was a wonderful experience and a much needed retreat from the stresses of daily life.  Spending time in such a beautiful environment surrounded by caring and like-minded people gave me peace and comfort.  I felt that I grew personally and professionally on this trip.  If given the chance to do it again I would be there in an instant. Brianne Plante, DO

The trip to Nova Scotia was really an amazing trip. When I signed up for it, I really wasn't sure what was in store but knowing it was coordinated by Phil (Cass), I knew it would be something special. This like-minded group was able to spend quality time at a unique venue. From the hosts, to the accommodations, to the outstanding food, to the expansive forest, it truly was a treat. We never felt pressured to participate in any of the exercises and really had the freedom to do whatever each individual felt she/he needed. The group exercises were thought provoking and the community support was unparalleled. I would definitely recommend this retreat to other PLA physicians and I'm just hoping there will be another "course" in the future.  Carol Greco, MD

The Physicians Leadership Academy (PLA) was developed for central Ohio physicians and is very different than most leadership classes as it has “mindfulness” at its core. The classes are comprised of all ages of physicians – those who have been practicing a while become more re-energized around their original purpose for being a physician – those who haven’t practiced as long, gain a strong foundation of leadership skills. The classes are from 3:00-8:00 pm once a month September – June and are held at the Columbus Medical Association, 1390 Dublin Road. The next enrollment will begin in Spring of 2018 for the 5th class that will start in September.

The PLA is endorsed by Central Ohio Primary Care, Ohio Gastroenterology Group and Mount Carmel Medical Group.