Resources & Information

Jul 31 2012

Practicing self-care: Resources for physician wellbeing

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As medical professionals, we spend our lives and careers focused on the health and welfare of others. For the health of the profession, and the good of society, we must not forget to look after ourselves, as well.

As physicians, we have been taught to do it all by ourselves, to do it perfectly, to never say “no” and to deny, sometimes, our most basic needs. Imagine that a patient has acknowledged driving him- or herself in this fashion on a regular basis. What would you say to that patient? Relax. Slow down. Start taking better care of yourself.

Unfortunately physicians are far better at giving medical and lifestyle advice than we are at following it ourselves. The end result is a healthcare system in which doctors feel isolated, fatigued, overburdened and unable to render the care they wish they could provide. This pattern of self-neglect is not sustainable. Society needs physicians well able to care for patients in a professional and capable manner. It doesn’t need any more bitter and cynical physicians.

I have been interested in physician wellness for some time. Through my involvement in the NC Academy of Family Physicians, I have led efforts to offer CME related to physician wellbeing, and the NCAFP’s Council on Health of the Public has taken up the charge to continue these efforts.

In this article, I have gathered a repository of resources that may help physicians and other clinicians become more attuned to their personal and professional needs. Some physicians may need guidance in some aspect of their careers. Some of us just need a reminder of the good and noble aspects of the practice of medicine. Some may sense that they are fraying at the seams and need ideas for how to recharge and repair. Many doctors won’t need any of these resources. If you are one of those few, I bet you know someone who could benefit. The NC Medical Board has agreed to add the resources listed in this article to the “Links” section in the Professional Resources portion of the NCMB’s website.

I’ll close with a favorite quote, from Brian Dyson, who was CEO of Coca Cola Enterprises from 1959-1994: “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them—work, family, health, friends, spirit—and you are keeping all of these in the air. You soon discover that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls—family, health, friends, spirit—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

Be well.

Dr. Snyder, a family physician, is Medical Director of Patient Centered Medical Home Development for Novant Medical Group and is a past president of the NC Academy of Family Physicians.

The list below is by no means complete, and you are invited to add to it. Please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)your favorite resources, books, pearls and comments.
Disclaimer: Neither the NCMB nor Dr. Snyder endorses the organizations or individuals listed below or represents them in any way.

PHYSICIAN WELLBEING
NC Physicians Health Program
Center for Professional Wellbeing
Finding Balance in a Medical Life | Finding Balance in a Medical Life, Lee Lipsenthal, 2007
Center for Professional and Personal Renewal
Kitchen Table Wisdom | Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. Riverhead Books, New York; 1996

WORK ADDICTION
Work addiction inventory
Co-Dependency-Care Addiction | Referenced in Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners, and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them; by Bryan E. Robinson (New York University Press, 1998)

BURNOUT
Burnout inventory
Compassion Fatigue
Professional Quality of Life
Maslow Self Actualization

SELF CARE-IMPROVEMENT
AMA Physician Resources
Life stress inventory
Heart Math
Exercise is Medicine
Weight Management
Zung Depression scale
British Medical Association

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