Your Weekly Dose of Positive Medicine
I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element It is my personal approach that creates the climate It is my daily mood that makes the weather
If you are like most doctors, you are sick of hearing about burnout. We know we are. There is a big debate on whether burnout is real or whether physicians are suffering from something more sinister like moral injury or human rights violations. That doesn’t matter. In the end, no matter what name we give the problem, the real issue is that physicians are in fact suffering. We are suffering a lot.
Physicians are among the most intelligent, hard-working and (yes) resilient people in the world. Do we really need more resilience modules to help us get through our days? We are suffering because we have lost our ability to focus on what matters most. We are suffering because we refuse to stand together in the defense of our colleagues and the ideal practice of medicine. It is time to reclaim the joy and meaning in our work and in our lives. It is time to live the kind of life we all dreamed of living when we were young. We may be suffering but we are not weak. We are strong. We are already resilient enough.
Many of us no longer experience the same levels of meaning and fulfillment that should be inherent to the practice of medicine. We want to spend more time with our patients but we trade presence for productivity. We crave meaningful connections with the sick but find ourselves hoping this will be their last complaint. We want to go home energized after a day of serving others but find ourselves too exhausted to play with our kids.
Rather than assume a passive role of an under-appreciated, burned-out physician desperate to leave medicine, we can use our unique combination of intelligence, creativity and grit to reclaim the joy and meaning in our personal and professional lives.
So how do we do this?
Through the cultivation of our most precious resource – our attention and our habits.
Now on to this week’s ideas…
1. Leading Ourselves. Key Questions in the Time of Coronavirus
“No doubt when COVID-19 is history, we want to be on the side of those that helped, gave and contributed to the greater good.”
In this post, radiologist and executive coach David Fessell along with best-selling author and psychologist Daniel Goleman provide us with three key questions to ask ourselves during this time of high anxiety. Simple and actionable but not necessarily easy, answering these questions can help bring out the best in ourselves and those around us.
2. Five Ways to Decrease Stress Amid Crisis
“When I find myself worrying, I take a minute and examine the things that I have control or influence over. While I can’t prevent a storm, I can prepare for one. And while I can’t control how someone behaves, I can surely control how I react.”
Dr. Harry Kardyes, an emergency physician, reminds us to focus on what we can control – our thoughts, behaviors and actions. In this article/podcast, he shows us how key habits can help change our response to stress during this pandemic.
3. Burned out on Burnout
“What I have come to realize is that the problem in our lives is not the lack of money or time but the scarcity of our attention. We are filled with thoughts, worries, and to-do lists swirling around in our heads. We need more presence and more peace – yet we find ourselves thinking about work while playing with our kids, surfing the internet while talking to our spouse, or checking our phones at the first sign of solitude.”
In this post, radiologist Sanj Katyal shows us why the cultivation of our attention is the ultimate currency. In this roadmap, he discusses how optimizing our ability to focus, performing meaningful deep work, and becoming fully present along the way are the keys to reclaiming joy and meaning in our personal and professional lives.
Bonus Video: Parent Survival Guide to the Covid-19 Screen Time Crisis
“Now more than ever, parents need to maintain a balance between on screen and off screen activities for their kids who should not be left to their own devices”
Over the past several years, many parents struggle with their kid’s excessive screen time and social media use. With large chunks of unstructured time during this pandemic, the amount of screen activity has skyrocketed. In this informative video, psychiatrist and screen time addiction specialist, Clifford Sussman MD, shows us how we can teach our children the difference between high and low dopamine activities and why a balance between the two is so important for their happiness.
Two Quick Things Before You Go…
As physicians, now more than ever, we desperately need to do a better job of supporting each other. If you are struggling with the current demands of medicine, please know that a FREE confidential formalized peer support for physicians by physicians is finally in place. Contact Physicians Confidential.
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