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As a young oncologist, Anthony Back turned to Buddhism as a practical way of processing the suffering he encountered each day. Over time, his practice has become an essential support to his work in accompanying patients as they navigate illness and death, and it has radically transformed his understanding of what it means to provide care. Back currently serves as co-director of the University of Washington Center for Excellence in Palliative Care, where he trains clinicians to communicate more openly and effectively about serious illness. In addition, he regularly leads retreats on being with dying at the Upaya Zen Center with Roshi Joan Halifax.

In this episode of Life As It Is, Tricycle’s editor-in-chief, James Shaheen, and co-host Sharon Salzberg sit down with Back to discuss how he integrates his Buddhist practice into his work as a physician, how he deals with burnout and moral injury, and what James Joyce and Virginia Woolf have taught him about paying attention.

Read Back’s article on his study on how psilocybin-assisted therapy can support healthcare workers experiencing burnout here.

Life As It Is is a podcast series that features Buddhist practitioners speaking about their everyday lives. You can listen to more of Life As It Is on Spotify, Apple PodcastsSoundCloud, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

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