This article originally appeared in the Fall 2023 issue of the Ontario Medical Review magazine.
Physician Perspectives is a regular feature in the Ontario Medical Review. Its purpose is to share differing points of view and inspire dialogue among members on important topics of the day. In this edition, we asked physicians what advice they would give their colleagues to meet the current challenges of health care.
“You need to find people that you can work with; you need to have a team of support around you. You need to have colleagues that you like, respect and you can lean on because this is a hard job. It’s a hard profession, but it’s a wonderful profession to be part of.”
“Don’t work harder than the patient. You can give and give and give, but sometimes you can’t move the needle with the patient if they’re not ready for it. Meet the patient where they’re at, give them every opportunity to take a step towards you and be ready to meet them. You can pour your entire self and energy into a situation and not be able to affect the change you want to see. Realize that this is my patient; this is where they’re at; this is what I can give them right now and this is what I can’t.”
“Take time for yourself because if we’re not healthy as physicians, then we cannot be effective physicians for our patients. It’s the same as a plane: put your own oxygen mask on first before helping someone else. We also need to re-think how we provide care so that we’re not getting burnt out. What are we doing now that we could potentially delegate to somebody else? Are there things we are doing now that we might not necessarily need to be doing? That’s the bigger question, but the first thing is take care of ourselves.”
“I would tell young doctors to make sure that they keep self care front and centre as they enter the workforce and not start by biting off more than they can chew because it’s very difficult halfway through your career to try and work less. It’s better to start off with healthy practices at the beginning so that it can be sustainable.”
“Please find the joy in what you’re doing. I get excited about the interesting cases. I’ll take a break and I’ll tell my colleagues about them, and those moments bring me joy. And I tell new physicians, if you don’t get excited about those interesting cases, and the moments they bring, then this isn’t for you. You have to find the joy. Yes, it’s busy but it’s always busy.”
“This is a marathon not a sprint. A lot of times as we enter health care, we see the deficiencies in the system, and we’d like to help our patients. We work too hard at tackling those giant obstacles that won’t be fixed in a couple of years. I’d tell my younger self to save your energy; don’t let that flame burn out. When you’re so energetic at the beginning it’s possible that you burn yourself out within a couple of short years, and then you stop caring. Instead, slowly make little changes that will benefit your patients every day.”