Honor the Amazing Clinician You AreDec 19, 2022
A warm holiday season greeting to you! I know that many of you are still being thoroughly overworked with the burden of respiratory illnesses that are raging on unrelentingly.
I was talking to a Tertiary Center Pediatric ER Physician last week for advice regarding a small infant with influenza that I was seeing in my rural ER. He sounded exhausted! Despite this, he extended advice with confidence and compassion, and he gave me the information I needed to continue to care for the infant and we avoided transfer.
I know that within healthcare we are exhausted and it is so easy to lose patience. I am thankful that most of the time we can maintain cordial interactions, respect, and sometimes even humor.
I know that you are likely working with less staff than you need and with more patient demand than is reasonable.
I was particularly moved by recent posts regarding urgent care Physicians, and clinicians, who are seeing 50-70 patients in a 12-hour shift, more than double the usual urgent care rates. It is humanly impossible to see this volume without being mentally exhausted - placing the Physician, or clinician, in a very vulnerable state.
Emergency Departments are heavily burdened with high volumes. Family Physicians are struggling with high demand and increasing requests from their patients that arrive with ever-increasing accessibility - portals, emails, messages, and worklists.
If you are in clinical practice right now, you may feel like you need to clone yourself to get through the work of the day.
This is not a message to discourage, but a message to remind you that you are not superhuman.
Please take the opportunity to rest.
Please allow compassion toward yourself.
I often remind myself and my colleagues that when faced with the current volumes and often with reduced staff, we need to adapt our practice accordingly. We are all doing our best with the time and resources that we have available to us right now.
It is easy to be critical of yourself and what you could have done differently within different circumstances, but please stay reasonable to the human that you are.
You need care, rest, sleep, food, and water.
You are being asked to continue to work under difficult circumstances day after day. But you still have a choice. You can still look after yourself, even when you are looking after volumes of people who need medical care.
Find small pauses, gift yourself the joy of completed charts, take breaks for water and take small easy snacks to consume through your shift. If you can, use mini-micro relaxation strategies while you make that phone call, finish that chart or as you listen to the first few minutes of the patient's story.
After the shift, take a minute to wind down, that could look like; venting to a colleague, sitting in your car with your eyes closed for 20 minutes, or listening to a podcast that you enjoy on the drive home.
I have the honor of talking with some of our busiest Emergency Department Colleagues in Ontario soon, and we will be discussing Patient Care and Charting - both possible in the ER.
As we get busier, it's even more important to look after ourselves and find ways to ensure that there is very little left until "later". Yes, it's hard, but honestly, we don't have "later".
No one else will guard your time, that's our job.
The tide of patients is likely to continue. The healthcare system is unlikely to change or provide relief in the immediate future.
If we continue to work as we have; leaving the charts and admin tasks until "later" then we are at risk of sacrificing our health and our sanity.
It is time to make changes that help you now. That helps you create more time in your evenings for the rest you need to restore health and for non-work pursuits such as friends, family, hobbies, exercise, and sleep.
This season take a moment to honor the amazing physician, or clinician, that you are.
You are enough.
You are amazing.
You are doing incredible work in the face of adversity.
You are doing your best.
You deserve the opportunity to create a clinical day that is sustainable. It is possible and I would love the opportunity to help you, even when it feels impossible.
Please reach out and let me know if you need help to achieve this.
In the meantime, let me raise a glass and toast you this holiday season. To my amazing colleagues, I honor you and the courageous work that you are doing in the face of our ongoing healthcare crisis.