Wellspring by NCPHP: Accepting role reversal—when the doctor becomes the patientComments: 0 comments
These attitudes are inculcated into us throughout medical school and residency. They also come from the prevailing public notion of what a doctor is supposed to be, mostly driven by non-reality based Hollywood fiction.
So, dauntless, we put on our cloaks of invincibility, project the proper doctor persona, and carry on. Despite these attitudes, every provider currently training or in practice will one day take off the white coat and assume the role of patient.
This will happen, because all providers are human. Whether now or sometime in the future, we will experience the same medical maladies and infirmities as our patients. It can seem an especially cruel circumstance to a medical professional who has spent a lifetime seeing to the healthcare needs of others.
Doctors are great when it comes to caring for others, but they are not always so great at taking care of themselves. Far too many physicians and PAs get into trouble and end up before the Medical Board or at NCPHP because they chose to be their own providers and self-medicate rather than seek help from independent qualified professionals.
Burnout rates are extremely high and rising. When physicians burn out they will sometimes act out—with drugs, alcohol or maladaptive behaviors. Depression can develop or deepen. Of course, the most serious way providers act out is with self-harm. Suicide rates among healthcare providers are alarmingly higher than the in the general population, especially among women.
We must become humble enough and love ourselves enough to accept our own humanity. Self-care must become a priority for every provider. The following changes to attitude and that “internal script” are all that is required:
Everyone wants to achieve a state of wellness, and wellness begins with self-care. How can you determine where you are on the self-care scale? Ask yourself this one important question: Am I as great at taking care of myself as I am at caring for my patients? If the honest answer is no, it is time to turn away from the path of least resilience (pun intended) and make some changes. You, your patients, your family, and your community will be the better for it.