Who I Help and Why: Physicians
A State of Crisis
I am worried about us, and want to help. We are not doing well as a group. In fact, we are in a state of crisis. And we need to help and support one-another! I am committed to doing that. I love working with my colleagues, and hate the pain that many of us are in right now. It can be different. There are private, safe, individual solutions to it all. But the first and foremost step, is bridging the isolation we feel, and being there for one another.
We need one-on-one safe places to share our struggles, outside the universe where it is reportable, or public in any way. I offer that in a Doc-for-Doc Coaching experience. No insurance, no medical record, no diagnosis!
We need validation, information about what helps, tools and a champion or two! And, we need forums to share and support one another.
I offer Retreats, and Group Support/Empowerment Sessions. Again, all private, and outside the medical model.
We need to be learning from one another. In our giving, we are healed. I love learning from those I champion, as do many of us who chose medicine as a career!
I first met Dr. Eve Wood nearly 38 years ago, when we were both medical students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. As a practicing gynecologist, I have referred Eve many patients over the years. Her patients adore her! When she moved out west from Philadelphia, many of her clients continued to maintain ongoing phone consultation with her: She could help them gain insight and problem-solve in ways that are unique, and she cared about them in a way that was hard to reproduce.
Eve has a wide breadth of life experience that allows her to share a personal perspective on many issues, and she loves learning from others. She is compassionate, thoughtful, trustworthy, reliable, and wise. She is my ideal physician, friend and coach. Eve is a great go-to person when times are challenging or tough, or when you are looking for someone to celebrate your successes! I am deeply grateful to have her in my life, and think you will be too.
Understanding the Problem
We are highly stressed, seek help to a lesser degree than other professions and are at risk. In fact, approximately 400 U.S. physicians die by suicide yearly, more than a full medical class worth of us. We are desperate.
Why? What sort of data might we look at to understand the problem? Well, the 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians recently released by the Physician’s Foundation, which includes responses from 17,236 doctors throughout the U.S., has found the Key Findings below:
- 54% of us rate moral as somewhat or very negative
- Only 37% of us describe our feelings about the future of medicine as positive
- 49% of us often or always experience feelings of burn-out
- 49% would not recommend medicine as a career to their children
- We spend 21% of our time on non-clinical paperwork (or 168,000 M.D. FTEs)
- Only 14% of us have the time we need to provide care to our standards
- 80% of us are overextended or at capacity with no room to see more patients
- 48% of us plan to cut back on hours, retire, take a non-clinical job, switch to concierge medicine or take other steps that limit patient access to our practices within the next year or two.
Key institutions and individuals are finally starting to talk about this serious problem. Conferences, and symposia are beginning to happen. Dr. Murthy, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General, was a keynote speaker at such a conference. He was recently interviewed by AMA Wire where you can find the full interview. Because it is validating, I want to share some of that interview with you. He shares my worry about our isolation and distress. And, sees the need for connection, and openness to seeking emotional support, as primary to healing.
And I quote: “At a time when we need more qualified and compassionate clinicians, we must ensure the environments we create in medicine—and the tools with which we equip our doctors—promote emotional well-being. We must also create a culture where discussing and prioritizing emotional well-being are not seen as signs of weakness. At a time when physician burnout is high and the need for capable and compassionate physicians is growing, it is more urgent than ever that we invest in improving the emotional well-being of physicians. Medicine should be a profession where medical students and physicians thrive instead of burning out.”
I believe Dr. Murthy is correct. I have treated physicians as patients for years. And, it has always been something to keep secret, to report nowhere, to worry about. So, I have decided to offer my services in a coaching, not treatment, capacity!
Embracing our challenges and difficulties allows our personal right answers to emerge.
Today, we physicians in pain are starting to speak up, and out, as a group. I am proud of us for this step. We need one another, to make our lives better.
I welcome the opportunity to be one of your Well-Being Champions in your self-care project. Contact me to see how I can be of help!
With love and gratitude for what you offer us all,
A Quick Look at Work-Life Balance
A survey conducted by Mayo Clinic in 2014 discovered that physicians across the United States are strugging with work-life balance. The following statistics are out of the nearly 7000 physicians who responded to the survey.
Likely or definite that they would reduce clinical work hours in the next 12 months
Likely or definite that they would leave their current practice in the next 2 years