As a busy doctor working hard, trying to have more balance in your life, you must avoid ‘emotional blackmail.’
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.’
It’s important to look after yourself as well as you look after your patients.