I was just about to go to sleep at 5am after doing my research when I check the Life in the Fast lane’s list of recommended medical blogs. I clicked on a blog called “residing in the ER” and ended up watching a 3 minute video clip which was an interview with Peter Rosen, known for being the chief editor of one of the most highly recommended text books of Emergency Medicine (“Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice). The truncated interview that follows is taken from an in-progress documentary called “Heal Thyself”, and from what I can gather from this clip, explores a physicians struggle through the realities of modern medical practice that perhaps lead to “burn out”.
The inteview illustrates this physician’s passion for treating patients, with care, and his inspiration of knowing “what to do” in the delivery of acute care. One of the things that moved me perhaps the most was the wise message given as a strategy to avoid burn out – which was to “revitalise your ideals” and to connect with the “gift of affection”. However, as I watched this video I couldn’t help wondering “have the current systems of medical care changed so much that it is having effects on even the most passionate within the profession?”
I think the answer to this question is “maybe” as the pressures in hospital medicne and particularly emergency medicine are high, and increasing. Why is this? I think it is to do with the mismatch between the expectations of society, the legal system, hospital manangement, and what the doctors themself expect should constiute health care.
I have had a special interest in burn out for many years now becuase I have always considered myself to be quite an enthusiastic and caring doctor, and, I am very keen that these qualities do not “burn out” – yet although the challenge is worthy, I feel the road is rocky, in todays high pressured hospital environment, and consequently today’s ‘training’ enviroment. Reading what is out there on the blogosphere I started to realise that I was not alone, and now seeing this clip from Peter Rosen it appears that this sentiment perhaps could be in association with esteemed company.
It has been of great interest to me to try and find tools to avoid burn out, and to maintaining the passion whilst walking the difficult path of training and medical practice. In my view the solution lies in “taking care of oneself” – and for me that involves, ensuring rest and satisfying the soul, through the journey of training. But I guess everyone’s path is different? Nevertheless, the concept of “Healing Thyself”, the proposed title of this documentary (from which the above video clip was taken), is of paramount importance if we are to be able to heal others, and this is something I certainly teach or mentor to those more junior than I whenever possible.
Perhaps those of us who are in medical education are familiar with the CanMEDS principles which are thought to strategically address some of these challenging situations created by modern health care – thorugh a more well rounded training of doctors. I think this is a very noble cause, one that I am very enthusiastic about – and the You Tube clip below shows some of these goals nicely played out with acting and music:-
However, whilst I’m optimist by this framework of training, I believe that at the same time there needs to be the development of “collaborative” common-sense expectations of health care delivery, that involve the ‘entire’ society, as a whole, if we are to avoid the mismatch from persisiting.
Physician Heal Thyself
Physician Heal thyself,
Or you will feel like you are stranded on the shelf,
There is pain you seek to heal,
But try not to deny what you feel,
How can it not affect me,
When it was ‘feeling’ that taught me to see?
How can it not deject me,
When suffering lives on the other side?
The change of tide is arriving,
Integration is thriving,
For a new age of understanding,
Is collaboratively re-expanding.
Well there’s my poem for the night – Good night 🙂