While writing my previous blog post my mind finally clicked. After years of being unsure and clouded about what I want to do with my medical career I think I’ve finally figured it out. This blog has been mainly about me voicing my frustrations and expressing myself during internship and residency.
The action of writing my thoughts publicly has really helped me deal with my negative emotions. Instead of keeping it secretive in my head, being open has really been cathartic.
Whenever a fellow medic or ex-medic messages me words of encouragement or thanks for my posts it really spurs me on. My blog has not only helped me, but it has helped other individuals and aiding even one person means the world to me.
Originally, I thought I needed to quit medicine for my mental wellbeing. Howver, almost all of my blog was written during extreme burnout. At the time I didn’t even realise how bad it was. Looking back I can see how much I was struggling emotionally and physically at some stages.
Being a junior doctor isn’t easy. Especially when you’re unsure about which direction to take. Working without a purpose can leave you feeling hopeless. What are you working for?
I finished internship and residency with pure willpower. It was my goal and I counted down the days and hours til it would be over. When it was done I really had no idea what to do next.
I continued to write in my blog, sharing my fears and lack of direction. My insecurities at feeling left behind by my peers, and the fact that I was officially unemployed.
During my last post I realised that this blog is not about leaving medicine. It’s about junior doctor mental health.
I’m passionate about educating doctors in training about caring for their mental wellbeing. I believe this should start from medical school. Or even before medical school.
For the first time in a long time I feel excited, motivated, interested and my mind is sharp. I’m not burnt-out anymore. I’ve started studying about junior doctor mental health and want to study more!
- Help remove stigma for doctors in looking after their mental health
- Promote self care
- Educate in recognising early signs of burnout
- Encourage non-medical interests in doctors – let them know it’s good to not only focus on medicine!
- Help change the culture in medicine to make junior doctor years more enjoyable – no more ‘rite of passage’ let’s make it better
- Improve resources for accessing support of mental health + physical health
- Let doctors know it’s okay to not know what specialty they want to do immediately
- Support struggling doctors, not penalise (this includes access to sick leave)
- Don’t make the onus on doctors to ‘deal with it’ but have more support from the health care system itself
- Combat compassion fatigue
- Learn to treat burnout
There’s so much to unpack but the above goals are just a few off the top of my head.
Why is it so important?
A healthy doctor is a better doctor!
Would you rather a well-fed, well-rested, hydrated, supported, happy doctor look after you or an exhausted, hungry, thirsty, burnt out one?
For me it’s a no-brainer.
My past two years I had a large amount of guilt for not enjoying my work, or improving myself professionally. I had no resources left to go the extra mile that my patients deserved. I’m a hard worker and really care, so I always worked to my best.
Yet I knew my best the last two years was not my full potential. I was working in survival mode. Burnt-out, exhausted, hopeless, hungry, under-supported and confused. This is the normal for junior doctors. When I voiced how I felt every single doctor in the room with me would say they felt the same.
We need sustainable doctors – and then maybe we will have less doctors wanting to leave and more happy doctors working to their best potential.