Tag Archives: physician health

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Courtney Bercan is community health nurse at a clinic in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver

 

Years later, I still don’t want to think about it, let alone type it out. Three children, babies practically, dead before me. Their parents, dead beside them.

It has now been two years since I was on a Doctors Without Borders search and rescue vessel in the Mediterranean and it’s been a slow path, at times, to finding healing and peace for the things I saw and experienced there. As my life settled into a predictable rhythm, the memories started coming out of the blue and with intensity. They demanded attention. Normally, in Canada, the process of finding closure for a patient’s death, while not always easy, is not usually this difficult. There are mitigating thoughts and phrases to help you along the way:

“They were elderly and had had a good life.”

“We did everything we could.”

“At least now they are out of pain.”

...continue reading

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Sarah Tulk is a family physician in Hamilton, Ontario

 

Despite earnestly advocating for physician mental health, my own story has remained cloaked in secrecy. As a medical student, I felt far too junior to risk such a revelation. I watched as stigma, perpetuated by the hidden curriculum, kept my peers from seeking mental health care. Still, I kept my head tucked safely in the sand, and swore to break my silence in residency. However, as a resident the fear of jeopardizing job prospects maintained my mutism. I vowed to speak up when I was staff. Unfortunately, early in my staff career my advocacy efforts were smothered by fierce judgment and harsh consequences. I wholeheartedly renewed my vows with the ostrich approach and reconciled to start talking about mental health when I was protected by more seniority. I hated the secrecy and hypocrisy, but at least I was safe. Then I heard of another resident suicide. Then a medical student. Another resident. A staff physician. ...continue reading

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Keegan Guidolin is a General Surgery resident at the University of Toronto

Han Yan is a Neurosurgery resident at the University of Toronto

 

 

Much attention has been paid of late to the phenomenon of social echo chambers - situations in which people’s beliefs are amplified and repeated in a closed system as no dissenting opinion originates from within the group. Echo chambers on social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were identified as a factor contributing to the outcome of the 2017 US Presidential Election. We believe that social echo chambers exist in the real (non-digital) world as well, within social groups whose members may interact outside the group in general, but who discuss particular subjects only within the group. ...continue reading

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Sabrina Slade is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at Queen's University

 

Let me preface this by saying I am the kind of person who uses sarcasm and humour as a form of coping, and these opinions are my own.

You I have cancer.

A phrase I never could have dreamt would come out of my mouth, yet something I see or speak about almost every day in my so far short-lived medical career.

It’s the last week of June; I’ve just started my internal medicine rotation in Toronto and am rushing to get ready as I have slept through all seven of my alarms. I glance at my phone, noticing three missed calls and a voicemail with a little urgent symbol beside it. It’s my family doctor’s office; I listen to the voicemail half-heartedly as I struggle to pull on my nylons. She says something about biopsy results, and the words “neoplasia” and “urgent referral” stop me cold. I shimmy over to my phone, my nylons awkwardly half on, and hit replay. ...continue reading

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Dilshan Pieris is a second-year Masters Candidate in the Health Science Education program at McMaster University

 

When Breath Becomes Air
(Random House, 2016)

When Breath Becomes Air begins with Dr. Paul Kalanithi’s childhood life in Arizona, where he developed a passion for English literature and biology that provided the foundation for his desire to pursue medicine. During the first half of the book, Dr. Kalanithi writes about this journey, which notably involved attending several internationally-esteemed universities:  Cambridge, Yale, and Stanford. Not only did he graduate from these schools with honours — he was also pursuing the notoriously demanding specialty of neurosurgery. Despite the rigour of residency training in this discipline and a blooming relationship with his partner, Lucy, Dr. Kalanithi was not merely managing; he was gradually rising to prominence in the field as a clinician-scientist. ...continue reading

Magbule Doko is a family physician in Windsor, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at The University of Western Ontario

 

 

Our decision, firm and dedicated
To become doctors: a noble profession
Long years of heads in our books
Clinical years of emotional turmoil
Oh yes you did not know
Their stories touched us, imprinted on our minds
We wept ...continue reading

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This article is co-authored** by (top row) Christina M. Nowik , Pamela Lai, Thomas McLaughlin, Simon Moore, (bottom row) Gillian Shiau, Natasha Snelgrove, Nureen Sumar, and Jasmin Yee, all of whom previously served on the Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC) Resiliency Working Group

 

For Canadian resident doctors, July 1st is more than a national holiday; it represents the day when newly-minted doctors become responsible for decisions in patient care.  While this is an exciting day, it can also be fraught with anxiety and stress. Over the course of residency, acute work-related stressors, including traumas and patient deaths, can negatively impact residents’ wellbeing.  Additionally, residents endure chronic stressors such as large debts, extended work  hours, and isolation from family.  These factors predispose residents to burnout. The prevalence of burnout among resident doctors is up to a staggering 75%. Resiliency interventions have been shown to work, and the time to begin implementing them nationwide is now. ...continue reading

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Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

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

Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ

 

In the last two weeks I’ve attended three very different scientific conferences on behalf of the CMAJ Group. In fact you couldn’t get more different than the 33rd International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology and Therapeutic Risk Management (ICPE - all Big Data and massive record linkage aimed at finding out more about the benefits and harms of medicines and devices) and the 5th Canadian Conference on Physician Health (mainly focusing on the major problem of physician burnout and what we should do about it). And yet the same study was mentioned by plenary speakers at both conferences to support the same message: that physicians are overburdened by administrative and data-capture demands. Across four medical specialties, “for every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours is spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day,” ...continue reading

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JTepperJoshua Tepper is a family physician and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Health Quality Ontario

 

Often when we talk about improving health care, we turn to the Triple Aim. Developed in 2007 by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in the United States, the Triple Aim captures three objectives for a better quality health system: Improving a patient’s experience of care, improving population health and doing this at a reasonable cost. It has become a way of thinking embraced by many health care systems around the world.

The Triple Aim takes a big-picture, system-wide approach that can be applied to any part of the health care system, as well as across all levels of an organization. The ultimate endgame is a sustainable health care system that patients trust and that contributes to healthier populations.

All great ideas get improved upon over time. ...continue reading