Michael is driven by his passion and belief that his colleagues are suffering unnecessarily from physician burnout. His goal is to show physicians how to achieve the same work-life balance he has been able to create after years of trial and error and continued multidisciplinary education.
As a young boy, Michael always knew he wanted to be a physician. He was the kid in the neighborhood who got in trouble playing doctor with his friends. His fierce determination to succeed helped him get through high school and university, but also came with a price. By the time he was preparing to apply for medical school, Michael was experiencing a high level of stress and anxiety coupled with a drop in productivity. It was while studying for his MCATs that he realized the magnitude of the effects of stress on his life and so he signed up for a 10-day meditation retreat and never looked back. With over 20 years as an avid practitioner of meditation, Michael has now designed a career which suits his lifestyle, working as a physician part-time, teaching meditation, and working on passion projects, such as Wellness for Doctors.
Michael is double boarded and completed training programs in Anesthesia based Interventional Pain Management and Family Medicine. He was the Medical Director of a thriving chronic pain group practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. Three years ago, facing his increasing symptoms of burnout, Michael stepped down as Director to work part time and focus on teaching mindfulness and building Wellness for Doctors. He teaches mindfulness meditation to his patients, over 200 of which have graduated from his multidisciplinary chronic pain functional restoration program.
In his free time, Michael has become a certified yoga / Qigong instructor and meditation teacher and has led an interfaith meditation group in his hometown of Davis, California for over four years. He is also an avid outdoors adventurer who enjoys backpacking, guiding river raft trips, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing and sailing with his teenage daughter, Shayna.
Michael’s focus now is Wellness for Doctors. Since integrating his meditation practice, teaching, and outdoors endeavors along with the portfolio of strategies he imparts to his physician colleagues, Dr. Amster says,
“I have found my ideal work life balance. My patients are happier, I’m more productive and my passion for life and for medicine has never been higher. I believe this is possible for any and all physicians if they are willing to slow down and reconnect with themselves and to learn ways to care for themselves. Wellness for Doctors retreats will provide them the space and the teachings to do that. I’m so excited to be offering this to my colleagues.”