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My Story of Struggle and Service

Author Interview
Arlene McCain MD Author Interview

Embrace Grace is an impassioned memoir that shares your struggles and triumphs and shows how you established McCain Whole Health Care. Why was this an important book for you to write?

In a world divided by opinions, stories offer a way to look at common human experiences and bind us together at the heart level. Physicians are feeling burned out, patients are feeling disconnected from physicians, and the COVID pandemic exacerbated feelings of isolation and frustration for everyone. I have been on a personal journey of healing that opened opportunities to create a new way of offering medicine that was transformative for me. I was hopeful that by sharing my story of struggle and service, I could contribute to the healing of the healthcare system and those who participate in it.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest thing for me to write about was love. As a physician, it felt extremely vulnerable to share my feelings and fears, rather than evidence-based medicine. However, in order to offer holistic healthcare and meet people where they are, I had to be comfortable speaking with others at the mind-heart-body-soul levels. By doing so, I learned about the power of vulnerability.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is struggling to enact change in their life?

It’s too hard to do it alone, and you don’t have to! I recommend gathering, over time, a healing tribe of at least 12 people (professional mind-heart-body-soul providers) who can be nonjudgmental mirrors to all the paradoxical parts of you. Twelve is a large number, and I speak to the specifics of that in the book. These people can hold a safe space for you while you are discerning who you are being as you are doing. Are you being true to yourself or your ego? Are you acting out of love or fear?

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

Life is about participation, not perfection. We are asked to offer our gifts to the world as an act of love. Love is messy and imperfect. It also inspires us to creative action, rather than keeping us frozen with the fear. Love asks us to continue opening our hearts to ourselves and others until we recognize that we are all one in the work of love. Takeaway? Open your heart. Embrace grace!

Author Links: Amazon | Website

While the first part of the book is a more conventional memoir following the narrative of Arlene’s life, the second part is focused on the establishment of her unique medical practice and consists primarily of letters, Facebook posts, and journal entries. This story transitions to the establishment of McCain Whole Health Care, the first direct primary care practice in the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, as an outgrowth of her spiritual and religious calling.
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