A silly little blog for me to drop the excrement of my mind.
-or- a call to harm
Published on May 15, 2008 By BlueDev In Health & Medicine
 
My professional goal is to assist the human body in healing itself.  Be it through medication, lifestyle changes, surgery or other interventions, my efforts are for people to live better, healthier lives.  I have spent 11 years since I graduated from High School working toward this, with at least another 4 to go.  The vast majority of my waking hours are spent caring for others.  It is truly one of my passions.
Esclapius
And yet.
 
We spend so little time caring four ourselves.  It is our own doing.  There is no question that there are not enough doctors to truly see the patients who need medical care.  There is a supply/demand mismatch, and we created this.  With restrictions on the number of new medical students every year, as well as restrictions on the number of residents who match, we are ensuring there will always be a significant demand for our services.
 
Likewise, rigorous entry requirements, significant time and financial investments also put limits on the number who apply.  With a population that is growing significantly faster than the number of doctors, there will be no shortage of work for those who pursue medicine as a career. 
 
And this job security is the very thing that hinders our own self-care.
 
Though time has passed, the memory of my kidney stone is still fresh.  Yet even more clear is the realization that I did it to myself.  See, the stone hit on my last day of three continuous months on the Trauma service.  Three months of 14+ hour days, 6-7 days a week, with 1-3 30 hour shifts per week thrown in for good measure takes its toll on the body.  Add to that the fact that all day long you are running: to the Trauma bay to run the traumas, to the ER to see surgery consults, to any and every floor and clinic in the hospital to see consults, dealing with and organizing transfers from smaller hospitals, to the OR.  Most days, the first time I had anything to drink, let alone to eat was at 7 pm or later when I finally sat down to have some dinner. 
 
Fact: That is not conducive to being healthy.  This is only compounded by the paucity of time available to exercise.  We try to fit it in when we can.  Often the choice is between one more precious hour of sleep, one hour of actually seeing your family before they head off to bed, or getting in that workout.  It isn't hard to guess that the workout often loses.
 
How do we reconcile this seeming hypocrisy?
 
I wish I knew.  I refuse to try to justify it.  I know we need to work long hours to get the work done.  I recognize that medicine is a rather unforgiving career, and has a history that is much worse than its present.  But that doesn't excuse the self-abuse.  I told my daughter that it has probably been at least 13 years since I could honestly say I wasn't tired.  Most of that has been due to my efforts to get where I am today.  That isn't healthy, and it isn't sustainable.
 
Yet the winds of change are blowing.  A new generation of us are entering the profession.  A generation who believe that a well balanced physician, who cares for him/herself, who has at least a little time to nurture a family or friendships, is better equipped to really connect to his patients and care for them as human beings.
 
Not as diagnoses.

Comments
on May 15, 2008

I would think that as we move more to preventative medicine, we would encourage our doctor's to be healthy, too.

I think the general public thinks you should be some sort of performing monkey who knows everything and can DO everything for everyone.  We forget that you have families and lives outside of the hospital or clinic. 

on May 15, 2008
Yet the winds of change are blowing. A new generation of us are entering the profession. A generation who believe that a well balanced physician, who cares for him/herself, who has at least a little time to nurture a family or friendships, is better equipped to really connect to his patients and care for them as human beings.


I'm pleased to hear this and it makes a heck of a lot of sense. I personally believe the whole health industry needs a really big shake up. Doctors are human too, after all.
on May 16, 2008

We want our doctors healthy too!  As I'm sure your family do!  It is hard doing what you do and finding time for you because as you know, the hours, the time you put in, spent elsewhere and when free, with your family...it's not easy!  I hope somehow you will find the time to nurture not just your brain but your body and your heart as well.  It is good tha tyour family is there for you.  Thank you for what you do Peter.  You're not my doctor, but I"m sure your patients are grateful that you are who and what you are!

on May 16, 2008
At least that surgery rotation is over.

Get some rest, man. Spend some time with those lovely children of yours.

And give them hugs for me.
on May 16, 2008

You've only got one family, too. Somehow, I can't picture you on your death-bed wishing that you'd worked 'one more shift' at the hospital, but I can see you wishing you'd taken more time for yourself and your loved ones.

Oh absolutely.  I try to make time with them whenever possible.  Sadly, as a resident, our lives and schedules are pretty much controlled by those over us.  Once I am practicing, I will have more control.  That will be one of the most important factors in looking for my job.

For now, I suffer through, but one day I plan to make things different.

on May 16, 2008
So, tell me this...is your life exactly like Scrubs?

Hahahahahahaha.

Sorry!
on May 16, 2008

So, tell me this...is your life exactly like Scrubs?

Heh.  To be honest, I haven't seen much of the more recent versions.  I have seen very little since they became Attendings.  But as far as the first 2-3 seasons, Scrubs is the most accurate depiction of medicine and residency I have ever seen.  Almost every resident I know feels the same.

on May 17, 2008

I remember talking to one doctor at a clinic.  I had brought a list of things I wanted to ask him about.  He was a bit impatient but went over the things with me. 

Somehow we got to talking and he mentioned that female doctors were less productive than male doctors.  I mentioned my surprise and he explained it was because the female doctors spent more time talking to the patients.  I barely restrained rolling my eyes because that place was a walk-in clinic  and I know that nobody got long, extended conversations. It was busy but not crazy. I thought this guy's quest for speed could possibly cost some accuracy.

I've always thought that medicine is one of those professions where you don't want the professional running around and short on time.  And not to mention treating patients like an assembly line. It's nice to hear that there's a shift happening.  I think that's really exciting.

Thanks for all the hard work and sacrifices you've made.  I'm always amazed at how people can do those crazy stressful shifts.  It takes a special person. From what I've read when you posted about medicine, I think you'll be a fantastic doctor.

on May 20, 2008

Thinking of you!  Hopefully you'll be able to get some sleep when this rotation is over.  I love you brother, and I pray for you. 

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