Are these the biggest 12 challenges for doctors today?

doctor with headache

  1. Goal setting: Setting goals: Vital to set SMART goals so you can be very clear about what you want.
  2. Work life Balance: Balancing work and life – there is more to life than work.
  3. Managing time – essential for making space for a new life to happen.
  4. Self care: Deciding what you have forgotten to do lately and make a commitment to improve your self care
  5. Environment and behaviour: Noticing how small changes in your environment and or your behaviour result big positive effect
  6. Capability: you may be needing to learn some new skills and or   teaching some skills to people around you.
  7. Beliefs and Values: recognising that some beliefs are powerful enough to stop your change, yet beliefs can be changed.
  8. Identity: You are not your job or profession. Noticing how your ideas about who you are, may be stopping you doing what you want.
  9. Purpose:  Discovering why you are here and by doing this being motivated to achieve your purpose.
  10. Communication skills: Being  able to communicate what you want to do when it affects others and learning how to do this more effectively
  11. Stress management:  Learning techniques to reduce or get rid of stress.
  12. Creativity: getting in touch with your creative side which may have been dormant if your job has encouraged you to follow rigid procedures.

Comments  and additions ….please add yours.

More about group to support doctors

Following my post on group support for doctors:

What would work best as a way to support  doctors as a small group:

  • a group meeting on a telephone conference line?
  • on Skype?
  • forum format on-line?
  • set times when it’s Ok to call and speak on the phone?
  • other ideas?

Would you be interested in joining a group if I set it up?

What would be an ideal size for such a group? How often would you like to ‘meet’?

What times would suit you?

Please let me know either as a comment to this post or direct to me.

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?

Seeing the funny side of life

Because there is so much competition to get into medical school there may be a culture among medical students and then amongst doctors to take life extremely seriously. Of course there is nothing wrong with this because the responsibility of working as a doctor is huge and the outcome from making a mistake could be enormous.

However with the huge pressures put on doctors there may be a tendency for them to work too hard and forget how important it is to spend some time, preferably every day, living life more lightly. Whether it’s worrying about how they dealt with the last patient, preparing for a presentation to colleagues, or trying to keep up to date with medical journal reading, life can be very serious for a doctor.

So how can you change that? How can you bring more fun and laughter into your life? It all depends what makes you laugh and what you enjoy doing. Bringing some laughter, fun and enjoyment on a regular basis is vital for your own health and well-being.

Just do what you really want to do…

Have you got some brilliant ideas which you think might revolutionise the way you, your colleagues or the whole health service might work? Is there a bit of an entrepreneur in you? If you’ve always had a yearning to do something innovative or unusual what will you do to take your ideas forward? Perhaps you’ve thought of something which could revolutionise the lives of the medical profession or for patients with certain conditions. Don’t keep these ideas to yourself. Decide to do something about it.

With plenty of encouragement you may find that whatever you are keen about is of interest to others. They want to hear about what makes you ‘tick,’ what you are passionate about, who you are in your medical role or what you get up to outside of Medicine.

Who or what boosts your morale and fuels your enthusiasm? Think of someone who can give you the unconditional support you need, who sees you and your ideas in a positive light and encourages and motivates you to take them forward.

With that sort of support changes which seem impossible can become quite easy. You may be surprised how simple it is to do something different once you’ve made up your mind and stepped over the narrow dividing line between the situation you find yourself in and the one you want. Your ‘comfort zone’ may not be ideal but it’s often reassuring because you know the rules, even if you don’t like them, at least it’s familiar territory, easier to cope with than to step into an unknown situation. Taking that step into another situation can seem so daunting that you remain ‘stuck’ sometimes for years. knowing what you want to do, even knowing how you are going to do it, and yet you don’t take any action for change.

Ask yourself what stops you taking that first step. Very often it is fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or fear of what other people might think of you. So you, like most other people, take the easy way out and put up with the situation as it is.

Think about it: if you are living the sort of life which results in you feeling unhappy or unfulfilled and you know exactly what you want instead and yet you stay in the same place. Instead you can take some small action and move to where you really want to be because when you actually take that step, you may wonder why it took you so long to take action.

Doctors need support as much as other people

What do you do if you feel that you can’t cope with a situation? Perhaps other people are making suggestions to help you but you don’t listen because you don’t like the idea of asking for help from someone else.

You may be someone who believes that you have to deal with everything on your own without any help from others. It’s true there seems to be a culture amongst doctors of the idea that they have to deal with whatever happens in the course of their work or personal life on their own and without any support form others.

If this applies to you ask yourself , why?  Is it because you believe it’s a sign of weakness  to admit you find it difficult to cope with the situation?

It can be difficult to admit that you don’t know all the answers, especially if you believe others will think less of you if you admit ignorance. Yet if you can get over this obstacle, which may be to a large extent in your own mind rather than having much basis in reality, you can then begin to experience how wonderful to have someone to talk to about what’s going  on for you.

It’s a remarkable process that happens when you allow yourself to talk openly and truthfully to another person about the stress or challenges you are experiencing. The actual telling is in itself very powerful and in so doing you become of all sorts of answers to your dilemma and may decide quite quickly what to do next. This is all without much interception form the other person except for the listening skills they’ve used and perhaps the occasional question they’ve asked of you. The latter will have made you think of exactly what your desired outcome for the situation is and

So, stop putting obstacles between you and other people and  don’t put up barriers to communication either, nor  hold back from jumping to conclusions.

You may have people such as colleagues or friends or family who would be willing to listen to your dilemmas and guide you towards finding a solution for yourself. A coach will have been trained to do this effectively. One of the most important attributes a a good coach is starting on time, listening intently, asking pertinent questions and helping you explore some options you hadn’t thought of before.

Then you can take the leap you know you must take and make good choices for your life change.


Do you recognise this scenario? You are feeling very cross because someone hasn’t done something you’d expected them to do?
Maybe you say something like ‘I waited all this time and they still haven’t done this or delivered that’
You had an expectation which wasn’t met by the other person.
Have you ever considered they may not realise what your expectation was for them?
If someone is angry about something you aren’t doing, or haven’t done – take a deep breath, then ask calmly- ‘what were you expecting from me?’

We all do this – have expectations, think ‘well it was obvious what I wanted’ when actually it wasn’t obvious to the other person and so they don’t fulfil our expectations.

Suppose you are worried about someone and wonder what you could do to help them. Take a moment and ask them ‘What can I do for you?’
You could apply this when you see a patient who seems to have a hundred and one problems and you can sense your blood pressure rising as they tell you more and more. Where can you start?
You could turn to the patient and say ‘What would you me to help you with today?’
Perhaps all they want is something quite straightforward!

Think about your expectations. They are quite often assumptions we make without proof.
Do you expect that you will always have to take work home with you because you can’t fit it into the working day?
If that is what you expect that is what is likely to happen! Instead you could expect to finish at a reasonable time and so you organise your day and your work to fulfil that expectation.

Work Life Balance – avoiding emotional blackmail

As a busy doctor working hard, not only at your day to day job but also trying to have more balance in your life, you must avoid a particular trap. It might be called ‘emotional blackmail’ because that’s what it seems to be. You have two opposing forces fighting inside you: that part of you which  has planned to do something special when you get home that day and the other opposing force which doesn’t want to let colleagues down.
Here is a typical scenario: a colleague becomes ill and has to go home yet there is a clinic to finish  a ward round to do and emergency patients to admit and you are the doctor who is there.
‘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?’; Whatever the request made of you, you know that responding to it will take much more than the few minutes promised and your plans for the evening will be gone again. What’s the answer? It’s a difficult one isn’t it? You know that by the nature of working as a doctor you must be willing to drop everything in the case of emergencies but are these emergencies? You will need to make a rapid assessment of each request and have the confidence to say ‘no’ to all except those which can be considered extremely urgent and important. For the others you must say an assertive ‘no’ I don’t have the time to do that.

A similar but slightly different situation is when perhaps that same colleague will be away from work for a few days and you are asked to do  extra clinic sessions, for example, to cover the work not being done. You had planned to do things with your friends and family at those times yet so often you find yourself saying ‘yes I’ll be able to do that,’
because you don’t want to upset the person asking you. If you’ve done that recently contact them now and say ‘I’m sorry I can’t  help you out this time.’
Doing this may seem to be a difficult thing to day. But do you know what the likely response will be?  It is highly likely to be: ’ OK. That’s fine. I’ll ask someone else. It’s not a problem, don’t worry.’