Category Archives: Group support for doctors

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:

 

Time out for doctors

IMG_2212What was most important to the doctors who participated in Connect and Change in Cornwall last weekend was that the group were all doctors.  It was vital to understand  each other’s points of view and life experiences. Although we were all at different stages of our journey from Medicine to a life either after Medicine, or a life in Medicine, but without the burn-out, we all wanted to be able to live in the way we wanted to live, and there was a definite  commonality, understanding and connection between us, that non-medics might not have appreciated.

There was a strong sense of gratitude for the chance to take time out away from home and work, yet a strong reluctance to advertise what they were doing this weekend  to their colleagues.

Everyone needs time to be listened to, have the chance to  bounce ideas onto someone who understands but doesn’t tell them what to do, and also time to process new ideas and consider alternatives when life has become overwhelming.

We had already stretched our bodies with yoga before indulging in a delicious breakfast:   before a day to Nurture the Nurturer.

On Friday it was a glorious day and we walked and thought and connected with the fresh sea air and the rocks and the beauty of a Cornish beach. We found lovely pebbles and later decorated these with sparkles. We made a treasure map which showed what we really wanted in life.

Later we played with percussion instruments and made  harmonies and had fun creating amazing sounds.

We foraged for wild foods and prepared and then ate a slow cooked meal. It was a chance for a small group of medics to connect with each other and with me and together we planned what to do next for journeys of change.

 When you feel overwhelmed by patients and work load, take a little time each day to connect with your breath for a few moments. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Experience how empowering it is to be mindful, to be in the moment.  A few minutes  letting worries about the past or the future  drift by and connecting with your breath is a powerful technique we experienced in the session on mindfulness. It’s a technique that every doctor could use when feeling stressed and overwhelmed by huge work load.

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Taking time out is a way to be less stressed.

If you are an overworked and stressed  doctor who wonders if there is anything you could do to be happier, more relaxed  and have enough time to do things for yourself,  instead of allowing the monster that is Medicine, eat you up, then here are some suggestions for you.

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You can’t go on like this, because if you do then something has to give and that something will be your personal health and well-being so that you are unable to function as a doctor efficiently and effectively any more.  This will impact on your ability as a doctor and the way you feel about your patients and your medical work and eventually can lead to burn out and having to leave the profession on health grounds.

Not only your medical work, but your life in general already can be affected when you are on the go all the time. This results in you finding  it difficult to make decisions or decide what is best for your life now. Your relationships suffer and your self-care is decreased and you will feel frustrated and ineffectual. You may long to take some ‘time out’ but don’t know how or what to do!

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What can you do to change your situation?

You could:

  • Leave the Medical profession completely, which might solve the problem  yet feel anxious about what to do instead
  • Consider retirement yet wonder if you will be bored without the routine of work
  • Continue as a doctor and try to improve your work-life balance but don’t know how to
  • Free up more time for you – but don’t believe it is possible
  • Carry on as you are until you cannot cope any more and become completely burnt out

 What could happen if you don’t care for yourself more?

You will:

  • Become more stressed and unhappy;
  • Get fully burnt out;
  • Be unable to enjoy Medicine any more;
  • Become confused about what to do next…….

You long for some space and time  to:

  • decide what to do for you
  • discover for yourself that it is possible to be a doctor and live your life in whatever way you want…..

Life doesn’t have to be like that for you….

You can be:

  • more relaxed
  • refreshed
  • find answers to your dilemmas
  • decide on steps to move forward…..

But HOW can you achieve this? You must:

  • nurture yourself because when you look after yourself you can better look after your patients
  • relax, reflect so that you can make decisions calmly and in an informed way
  • make new connections  with  parts of yourself which have been neglected for a while so that you become a whole person again, by exercising, stretching, being creative
  • connect with nature so that you find something beyond your day to day work
  • find a new way forward, which you hadn’t discovered before so that you are more confident about changes you decide to make

There is also a once only opportunity to discover new ways to connect and change in beautiful West Cornwall, UK, so you can be refreshed, relaxed and make decisions about what to do next.

You will experience being able to Connect and Change with:

  • Your body which will become energised, exercised and stretched with walking, yoga, relaxation….
  • Your mind, to be able to think more  clearly as you have time to consider  what to do next in your life as you spend time in nature, by the sea, learn about and experience mindfulness… and have the chance to use me and others as a sounding board to discover your own solutions.
  • Your emotions which will become calmer as you put things into proportion while watching the ocean in an area of outstanding natural beauty and have the opportunity for personal reflection and discussion with other medics  and experience coaching as a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas.
  • Your creativity which will be awakened as you have permission to have fun and discover new ways to express yourself through art and music, and discover something new about yourself.
  • Your enjoyment which will be increased….as you enjoy  bird watching, swimming, ….conversations….laughing….staying in a beautiful place  just minutes from the sea, so you can relax and refresh your mind, body and spirit; and experience  a day foraging (with an expert) for wild food then cooking and feasting on it!

When you connect with new experiences you will be able to make the changes you want and discover which direction  to take next, within or out of the Medical profession, in order to live the life you truly want.

To take some time out just for you and discover what to do, for yourself, when you connect with parts of yourself you may have neglected…. find out more here:

http://www.susankersley.co.uk/connectandchange

With Connect and Change you can too take time out and be able to make the changes you want to make in or out of Medicine.

I’m Susan Kersley and I’m inviting you to spend time with me, my colleagues and a small group of doctors, in Cornwall, UK  3 – 7 April 2014

I was a doctor for more than 30 years before discovering for myself that there is a life after Medicine and enabling doctors to realise  this too.

Any questions:

Connecting with nature
Cornwall is an area of outstanding natural beauty!

 

 

 

 

Compassion fatigue in doctors?

Who heals the healers?
Who heals the healers?

I have a colleague who is writing a self-help book on burnout. She would be very interested in talking to any doctors or nurses who have experienced burnout or traumatic stress. If you, or anyone you know would be happy to share your experience, please email Sarah Kuipers on skuipers1@gmail.com and she will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time to call you.

 

 

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‘The patient’s treatment begins with the doctor, so to speak. Only if the doctor knows how to cope with himself and his own problems will he be able to teach the patient to do the same.’  (C. G. Jung in Memories Dreams and Reflections)

Who do you turn to when you begin to wonder how you’ll get through the next few years? Do you believe  seeking help and support will be seen as a sign of weakness? Do you make it impossible or very difficult for people to connect with you? Can you make connections? Do you feel  vulnerable? Are you  frightened about seeking assistance for yourself? Do you believe you have to cope on your own? Do you have to know all the answers? Do you hate to admit  that you don’t know? Do  you consider that others will think less of you if you admit ignorance?

Do you put obstacles  between you and other people? Do you put up barriers to communication? Is it easy to enable a patient to tell you their most intimate thoughts and feelings but difficult for you to do the same to your Do you dread the phone ringing because you don’t want to speak to a patient? Are you going to wait until you are at crisis point? Who can support you now? Who can be there for you and accept who you are?

Is now is the moment to  make changes to improve the quality of your life so that  you can have time for family as well as patients, more time for your friends as well as your colleagues. You could have more time to  enjoy being away from work doing things you  haven’t done for years, such as going for a walk, a cycle ride, reading a book, painting, writing,  any other  almost forgotten hobby, whatever you’ve been saying to yourself ‘One day I’ll have time for such and such’ Now is the time to get more balance between your  medical work and the rest of your life, the part of you that may have been submerged for years.

Don’t wait until you’re ‘burnt out’. Re-discover who you are. Start to make small changes right now. Be clear about what you have to do against what you ‘should ‘do. Do what  you love to do. Teach others your skills so that you can   delegate more to them to do some or all of the boring things you are doing now.

Do you think that you are indispensable and no-one else can do what you do? Suppose you are unable to do your work for some reason or another, what then? Someone else will take over. They may not do it the same way you do. They may not even do it as efficiently as you did. But they will do it their way and hopefully it will get done.

It’s OK to  be ‘selfish.’ The word ‘selfish’ may have bad connotations. Start to look after yourself, physically and emotionally. Think about it meaning ‘self-care’ If you take more care of yourself and your own needs you will cope  more effortlessly with the needs of your patients. Don’t wait until you have to find solace in drink or drugs. Don’t wait until you reach crisis point. Start now. Find someone who will encourage and support you unconditionally. Someone who won’t have any expectations of you but will encourage you to achieve whatever you want.

Who can you talk to about your frustrations and difficulties of overwork as a doctor in an environment of being undervalued and endless demands? Do you have a mentor who understands?

When you experience the power of support and encouragement rather than demands and intimidation you will be able to coach your patients to do whatever they need to do, rather than reaching for the prescription pad again to write up yet more tablets destined to be put in the back of the bathroom cabinet with the others. When someone listens to your concerns and acknowledges them as legitimate, you will become a better listener to your patients and hear more of their underlying issues and so be able to give them the help they need. You will be able to convey to them that they can make a difference to their own lives when they take responsibility for it.

Every small change you as an individual make will eventually help to change the system. Take courage, start to care for yourself , much more. What will you do differently today?

“We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more.”
-Madame Swetchine,

PS if you want to care for yourself  treat yourself to a few days away in April 2014 at Connect and Change (but hurry only limited places remain!)

 

 

 

Meaning of medical and non-medical words

I remember many years ago asking a patient if she had experienced any abnormal bleeding. ‘No, no, doctor,’  she replied. ‘ No bleeding. But I have been haemorrhaging badly.’ !!

We used to avoid saying the word ‘cancer’ to patients. Instead we talked about them having a ‘lump’ or a ‘tumour’ or a ‘growth’ anything so long as the dreaded C word wasn’t said out loud. Nowadays it seems to be the fashion to say it even with little definite evidence. An elderly lady in her 90s told me she had bowel cancer, and she was desperately upset by this. She was told by her GP before any definitive investigations had taken place.

Words which confuse
Words which confuse

I’ve used a word recently – the word: ‘retreat’ which I realise might have very different meaning to some people who read it. I meant it as an opportunity to be away from your usual surroundings and by doing new and creative things you could experience being able to ‘sort things out’ come to conclusions about ways to improve your life, work life balance, self- care or decisions you need to make.

I didn’t mean a shutting away in silence as in ‘religious retreat’ Instead an opportunity to have a few days connecting and discovering new ways to change the way you think about a situation you may be stuck about.

Anyway from now on I will truly  make every attempt to use words without ambiguous meanings!

PS I was referring to Connect and Change for Doctors in Cornwall

 

Group support for doctors?

Many people find joining a group for support through change is beneficial. Would a group for doctors who want your lives to be much, much better also work?

It might be useful for doctors who:

  • have read about personal development
  • haven’t made the changes they want yet

Doctors might resist joining a group because they:

  • never have enough time
  • have not been fitting in much apart from work into their day.
  • find that their family complains they are never at home
  • can’t remember when they last had a walk, went to the theatre or saw a film…….

Being part of a supportive group is for you if you want to:

  • Make changes in your life
  • Have more time
  • Stop feeling stressed
  • Become fitter
  • Be happier
  • Recognise you have choices
  • Enjoy the synergy and support of a group.

Joining a group can be an opportunity for support, encouragement and motivation. You may be able to meet each other face to face but it can work well if you meet on the telephone or on the internet. Any way that you can share ideas in a supportive environment can be very useful.

But how many doctors would be willing to do this? Is there a built-in resistance amongst doctors about admitting vulnerability and not being able to cope with something or needing to discuss future plans in a non-judgmental environment?

Being part of a group is commonplace for doctors especially when discussing clinical decisions. Could it become more often used too as a way to talk about personal development and also emotional issues in relation to dealing with patients? Not the diagnosis and treatment but more about how they deal with the emotional impact of dealing with patients.

What do you think about group support for doctors?