Arjun Sharma is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Toronto
Picture a physician on a hospital ward at the day’s peak.
He jumps from one task to the next: patients being careened off for tests, colleagues who wish to discuss care plans, progress notes that need documenting, and piles of orders that need filling. Add to that the tune of beeping pagers, ringing telephones, and clattering keyboards, and not a single minute is spared of its full economy.
I’m watching all this during my first stint on a hospital ward. As a newly minted clinical clerk caught in the professional purgatory between classroom-cocooned medical student and ward-flying physician, I’m asked to do much of the work of the latter. But having only two years of study under my belt means much of medicine still remains beyond my intellectual reach. ...continue reading →
Rising awareness of the toll that physician burnout is taking on our profession and our healthcare services has inspired numerous organizational physician wellness initiatives and resilience courses aimed at individual physicians. Yet, as experts discuss the relative merits of the system-level approach vs. the individual-wellness-training approach to addressing burnout, one key element seems to be all-but ignored: the healing power of the relationship between physicians and the patients they serve.
Dr. Tom Hutchinson, in his book, Whole Person Care: Transforming Healthcare (Springer International Publishing AG, 2017), suggests that we have lost touch with “the interior processes of healing and growth in the individual patient and the practitioner that give meaning to illness and to healthcare,” ...continue reading →
Health care professionals need to learn to do more to encourage self-expression in healing.
Watching Friday’s TEDMED session entitled ‘Weird and Wonderful’ I was humbled by talks by two non-medics who have done wonderful creative things that have vastly improved the lives of patients.
First up was Bob Carey. I had never heard of Bob Carey before – WHY had I never heard of Bob Carey before? – so I was surprised to see a middle-aged man standing on the TEDMED stage in a pink tutu and nothing else. He said, “I’m a commercial photographer …and I have been photographing myself for over 20 years as a form of self-therapy because that’s what I do; when things get hard I go take pictures of myself…and it’s a lot cheaper than real therapy...” He transforms himself through photography into something that he is ‘not’ and that helps him to get out of himself, he says. In 2003 his wife, Linda, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and Bob started to take pictures of himself wearing a pink tutu in beautiful landscapes. What started out as a way of expressing his inner discomfort and difficult feelings and sharing his wife’s experience, grew, through self-publication of a book, into the Tutu Project. ...continue reading →