Physician wellness is of paramount importance to our patients, to each of us as individuals and to our profession.
It’s no secret that the practice of medicine is both incredibly gratifying and highly challenging. The culture of medicine is both beautiful and flawed. The most beautiful aspect is that we are healers, and no one will take that away from us. Ever. A flawed part of the culture is that, as physicians and other healthcare providers, our own humanity has been devalued. Our culture and systems have both implicitly and explicitly reinforced the concept that our own needs – physical, mental and emotional – are unimportant. Vulnerability is weakness. Any efforts to acknowledge our needs and to get support in dealing with them is anathema. And yet we know from multiple studies that this is unsustainable. We also know from our own and our colleagues’ experiences that this is just wrong.
There is a convincing body of literature indicating that physician wellness is not close to the level it should be. Concerningly, we are seeing a high prevalence of physician burnout, depression, and suicide. *