Category Archives: Challenges for doctors

Doctor, look after yourself.

As a busy doctor working hard, trying to have more balance in your life, you must avoid  ‘emotional blackmail.’

overworked doctor

There are two opposing forces inside you: the part of you that wants to have a happy and balanced life  and the other that  doesn’t want to let colleagues down.

Here is a typical scenario: a colleague is away, perhaps through illness  yet there is a clinic to finish, a ward round  and emergency patients to admit. You are already overwhelmed with work yet you are asked:
‘Can you just see these extra few patients?’  ‘It won’t take long, can you speak to someone on the phone?’ ‘Please, will you check Mrs So and So, she’s not feeling too good?’

You know that  it will take more than the few minutes  and you sigh as you realise your other plans will have to be cancelled again.  You know that  a doctor you must be willing to drop everything in the case of emergency and so  you will need to make a rapid assessment of each request. Have you the   confidence to say an assertive   ‘no’ to all except those extremely urgent and important scenarios?

Similarly, when you are asked to do  extra clinic sessions and you had planned to do things  at those times.  You find yourself saying ‘yes I’ll be able to do that,’ because you don’t want to upset the person asking you.  Instead, you could try: ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you out this time.’ Doing that  may seem difficult but do you know what the likely response will be?  It could be, ‘OK. That’s fine. I’ll ask someone else. It’s not a problem, don’t worry.’

Doctor needs help
Lifeline for doctors

It’s important to look after yourself as well as you look after your patients.

You can  download a free eBook: How to have more Balance in your Life. HEREHow to have a balanced life

Doctor, 5 Ways for You to Have a Less Stressed Life.

Doctors are stressed and many believe there is nothing they can do to make a difference to their lives.  But it doesn’t have to be like that. When you make small changes you will experience work and life differently. Here are some suggestions to get you out of those prickly spots!

IMG_3451Please try them and let me know what happens!

1. Get your boundaries really clear: don’t expect others to be mind-readers. Stop  getting frustrated if colleagues, nurses, or secretaries don’t seem to understand what you want them to do: maybe you’ve made assumptions and haven’t been really clear about what you are expecting from them.

2. Decide what you  want. When you know what it is you want then you will be more able to tell others and no longer have to put up with unsatisfactory performance.

3. Communicate clearly. Give a positive feedback sandwich if you are not happy with the way someone is behaving. Say something complimentary then get the to point about what it is you really want, finally end on something positive about them.

4. Be responsible for yourself rather than everyone else. You can’t be responsible for others. You may be avoiding making a decision for change because you think someone will be upset. Tell them what you are going to do and when and then allow them the chance to deal with it in their own way.

5. Improve your self-care. Stop neglecting your own needs for care of your body, mind and spirit in whatever ways are good for you.

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What do these 5 things  mean for you for a calm and happy you?   Please comment in the box below.

Doctor, How to Change

New Year: time to make changes!
New Year: time to make changes!

We are coming to  the end of another  year and  it’s the time when you may be making decisions about what you want next year.  It seems to be an opportunity to do things differently and set out on a new path. 

In spite of a huge number of resolutions made at the start of the year most people fail to keep them more than a few days of a few weeks at most.  Resolutions are your  goals and you need to  plan  how you will achieve them.

I’ve made a decision myself recently: after fifteen years of coaching doctors I have decided to concentrate more on writing books and coaching programmes instead of one to one coaching.

How about you?

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What do you want to change or do differently next year?

 You can make resolutions at any time. However there is the influence of others at New Year when your friends and family are asking you what you plan to do during the year ahead and so you may respond to the peer pressure to state your resolutions at this time too. 

Trouble with New Year Resolutions is that they often don’t get kept for very long.

Before I stop one to one coaching I am offering just 6 people  the chance to make the changes you want. CLICK HERE to find out more.

It’s always worth making resolutions even if you fail to keep to them. This is because doing so enables you to consider what you want different in your life and to at least start the process of change.  You may not get to where you want but you will have at least acknowledged that you want to change something and once that thought has begun in you then eventually you will be able to make the change you want to make.

Let me help YOU make and MAINTAIN the change you want.

But this offer closes on December 31 2014

Doctor, you can improve your work-life balance

Work Life Balance

Create boundaries and do your very best to keep to them. However hard you try you can’t be perfect you can only be as good as you can be. That means learning when to stop and when to say ‘no’ if you are being asked to do something which you know either isn’t your job or you really don’t have the time or the skills to do it.

Decide how long you will spend worrying about a particular patient and when you reach your limit seek advice from colleagues. You learn by watching others and talking about what you find difficult. So stop worrying, identify the person who knows how to deal with the situation and ask for help and advice from them.

You dont have to deal with every problem entirely alone. Talk to someone else about the parts of the job you find difficult and if necessary put aside time to learn the extra skills you need. This is better than struggling on for ages not really having much idea about what you are doing.

Its OK to say I don’t know what to do or ‘ I can’t deal with this situation, I need to talk to someone else about it.’ This is how you will learn what to do next time and it is the time-honoured way you can learn what to do. 

Decide what can and cant be achieved in the time available and set realistic goals. Plan to go home at the end of the day. The routine work will be there for you to continue next day. Learn to differentiate between the urgent and important, and urgent but not important (and who else could deal with those things) from that which is neither urgent nor important.

Place importance on your out of work life so that you don’t neglect it. There is a life outside of Medicine, even though your work takes a huge amount of time and energy, plan social events and don’t neglect your partner, friends and family. Be aware that life is more than Medicine and make sure you set aside some time each week to connect with friends and family and take part in activities completely unrelated to your work.

When you discover more balance between work and the rest of life you will feel better, have more energy, enjoy life more and get things into proportion.

Want to work with me to improve yours? CLICK HERE

Let me know your ways to improve work life balance.

Doctors want to be Strengthened not Undermined

 We all need lots of positive ‘strokes.’shutterstock_36977740

We  thrive on positive feedback. When someone says, as in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ when Alice was asked to recite ‘You are old, Father William.’ she duly does so, and is then told by the caterpillar: ‘That was wrong from beginning to end…..’

How awful to be  undermined  in that way!

It’s a  common experience amongst doctors to be ‘put down’ by their superiors, for example: how badly they have carried out a procedure or how wrong is their suggested diagnosis.

Have you ever experienced being humiliated in that way? Or have you done that to your juniors?

Even if it’s true that there are ways to improve your practice,   it is so much better to praise whatever what is correct  before suggesting ways to do better next time.

I remember as a medical student being the only female student around the bed of a patient (when I was studying medicine there was a strict quota of female medical students) I was picked on to present the patient’s history and examination and remember wanting to disappear into a hole in the floor that wouldn’t open up for me. The Prof. of Medicine looked over his spectacles and tut-tut as I didn’t say what was expected. ‘Come , come’, he said disapprovingly, ‘surely you know what this might be due to?’

I heard no word of praise for what I had answered correctly only putting me down for what I had  not known. No offer of kind explanation for what I hadn’t  understood. On reflection many of those medical student ward round memories were about being able to regurgitate facts and figures rather than demonstrating any ability to demonstrate  understanding of the situation.

So, when you reflect on your experience of feedback from superiors and/or feedback you give to those you are teaching,  aim to give more positive strokes and less undermining.  

Please share your experience of this in the ‘Please leave a reply’ box at the very bottom of this page. Thank you.

 

Doctor, you are not indispensable: put yourself first for a change!

Please add your comments by clicking the ‘leave a comment button at the top of this post.

Although you may believe that you are indispensable, you might, one day, become unable to work. Perhaps you develop an illness which means you must take time away from work to recover fully either physically, emotionally or both. 

You may not want to take this time away from work although you are told that it is vital you do, or circumstances may mean you have no choice because  of the type of work you do or the type of treatment you have to undergo.

Doctors, like you, are particularly bad at taking necessary time away from work to fully recover. You feel guilty at letting your  patients down and even more, you realise your  colleagues will have to do much more work to cover for your  absence until you return or how quickly a locum is found.

You know that even with good locum cover there will be a considerable number of their patients who would rather wait to see their ‘own’ doctor when you return. 

All these factors can result in you not taking enough time to fully recover from your illness and so you may return and be less able to cope with the work load, take more time to do simple tasks and are not able to work as efficiently or even as competently as before.

What is the alternative? If you are a doctor who is or becomes ill then what you must do is to  be more ‘selfish’. The word ‘selfish’ may have bad connotations for you. 

Think about it meaning ‘self-care’.

When you take more care of yourself and your own needs, you will cope much more effortlessly with those of your patients. Relax Note Showing Less Stress And Tense

Don’t wait to find solace in drink or drugs, or until you reach crisis point. Find someone to encourage and support you unconditionally.  Don’t wait until you become so exhausted that you become ‘burnt out’ and have to take early retirement on health grounds. 

Instead put yourself first for a change. Listen to what you are advised to do and decide whether you can do that. Put your own needs to recover fully at the top of your agenda and don’t let guilty feelings about letting people down get in the way of your personal needs to recovery time.  

It’s a hard lesson to realise that you are dispensable but it’s true.  So do the best for you and then you will be in the best state to get on with whatever you want.

What is on the top of your agenda when you are ill or becoming burnt out? Please add your comments by clicking the ‘leave a comment button at the top of this post.

PS If you haven’t already got your free copy of Lifestyle coaching for doctors please complete the form in the sidebar —>>> and get yours before I take it down!

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Mistakes Doctors Make that keep them……

There are three massive mistakes that doctors make that keep them feeling tired, stressed and frustrated.

Who heals the healers?
Who heals the healers?

Many doctors believe that overwork is part of being a doctor. They complain of  a constant feeling of pressure and of frustration of not getting things done. not having enough time to do the things they really want to do. They neglect their lives outside of work because Medicine takes over their lives.   The three mistakes the make are:

3. Neglecting your  own health and well-being. This   means looking after your body, mind and spirit so you can be happy and  fulfilled. You can do this  by eating healthily, taking regular exercise and connecting with spirituality, by connecting with nature, meditation, or in formal religious  practice.

Connect with Nature and feel refreshed
Connect with Nature and feel refreshed

You cannot  expect to be fit and well while eating junk food, never taking exercise, taking  excessive alcohol and smoking and never taking time to watch a beautiful sunset or waves crashing on the shore.

Connecting with nature
Connecting with nature

This is important because when you are look after yourself you can better look after your patients.  When you don’t care about yourself how can you give the best care to your patients? You could start by taking a walk each day; eating regular meals and avoiding unhealthy food and doing something outside to  connect with nature.

2. Not finding the time to keep in contact with friends and family Relationships with people outside of your work environment are important because throughout your life there is a bond between family and friends that is very different from that between you and patients or colleagues at work. Usually friends and family are there for you, whatever the ‘ups and downs’ in your professional life, so don’t neglect these relationships. Even if separated by distance you can do this by meeting regularly or speaking on the telephone or via the internet.

1. Not taking ‘time out’ for rest, relaxation and re-charging your personal batteries. Even doctors are not mechanical machines and you need time doing something else apart from work.  When you do this you return to work feeling refreshed and enthusiastic once again. Taking ‘time out’ means rest or recreation away from your work.  This can be achieved in various ways: You could:

  • Take a few minutes between patients to close your eyes, concentrating on slow breathing in and out . You may want to think about breathing in relaxation and breathing out tension as you do this, or simply count slowly as you breathe in and out.
  • Get away from your clinic, ward or office for at least twenty minutes for a break during the day. Take the opportunity to take a walk outside especially if you can walk by a river or in a park. At the very least take a walk around the block.
  • Make a regular commitment to see a film each week or go to a concert or theatre : on your own can be as refreshing as with company.
  • Have  a  few days  away, for a complete change of scene and a chance to really get away from it all.
  • Take several months away from work  as a ‘sabbatical’

This article written by Susan Kersley, first appeared on http://doc2doc.bmj.com/

Let me know what you think on the form below:

 

Doctor, running around ragged?

I remember what that feeling of overwhelm was like when there wasn’t time to finish one task before more and more were demanded: from ‘Doctor, this won’t take a minute, can you just take a look at so and so’ to ‘You haven’t dictated all the letters yet,’ or ‘I put a couple of extras onto your clinic list for today, I knew you wouldn’t mind.’

How do you describe that feeling of ‘running round ragged’?  Please click ‘leave a comment’ at the top of this post and tell me.

Doctor, Is Medicine eating you up?

Don’t delay your life until  you reach a certain  point in your career: to remain a whole person make sure you look after yourself body, mind and spirit. When you do that you will be a whole person who also can cope much better with the stress of working as a doctor.

5 Ways for a doctor to easily improve work-life balance

 Perfect Work Life Balance
Perfect Work Life Balance

1. Decide what changes you want to make

If you know that the balance in your life is not ideal and it falls far too much on the side of work, it’s time to make appropriate adjustments in the way you live your life. The vital first step is to decide precisely what you want to change and then how you will go about making that change. Too often people are very clear about what they no longer want to happen but haven’t yet clarified what they want instead.

2. Do things you haven’t considered doing before

Because you have got stuck into a rut  in relation to the way you spend your days it’s important to brainstorm all sorts of new ideas, including whatever comes into your head, especially noting possibilities which you might not have considered before. At this stage don’t think too deeply about the practicalities. Those come later.

3. Keep on track with your projects 

Of course however lacking in balance your life seems to be it is nevertheless important to get certain things done each day. So devise a way to keep on track with those essential jobs and ongoing projects while also being willing and ready to let go of those not so important or necessary.

4. Only promise what you can actually do

It’s very important to become much more aware of how often you agree to do things when you have neither the time or the energy to complete. This means setting new personal boundaries. Instead of saying yes to all and sundry begin to consider your own needs for rest and relaxation and time  and start to say no when you are unable or unwilling to oblige and do what has been asked of you.

5. Energise yourself

This means re-charging your personal batteries in whatever way works best for you. It may mean for example taking time out for meditation or relaxation or doing some strenuous exercise such as running or brisk walking.  Exercise such as yoga combines physical movements with relaxation and concentrating on the postures enables your mind to be re-energised too. Whatever you decide to do make sure it is combined with eating healthy foods most of the time, plenty of sleep and time spent away from work, time with friends family and partner is a great way to build your energy and not forgetting time for you to indulge in your hobbies and interests.

Making big changes in life can be very stressful, so it’s important not to neglect yourself during the transition. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do when circumstances are new, you may not feel as confident as usual.  It’s important to remember to find some time just for yourself. Don’t only say yes to change, remember to say yes to time for rest and relaxation too. This might be making sure you have some fresh air during the day and eating lunch. It also means saying yes to leaving your work place to go home at a reasonable time, finding time to look after your body, mind and spirit. Movement can address all of these. This doesn’t have to be strenuous like going to a gym or running but could be yoga, tai chi or dance to  relax you after a hectic  day.

What can you do to  keep your body in good working order and improve  your general well being?



 

What do you do to improve your work life balance? Let me know  below!