Prof Frank Murray, President RCPI
Looking after yourself and your colleagues should be your priority
The life of a doctor can be immensely rewarding and we are in the privileged position of being able to improve people’s health and lives. Being a doctor can also be very challenging. Every day, we face fresh challenges- poor resources, the frustration of not being able to restore every patient’s health, while at the same time, trying to build and nurture our own personal and family lives.
Sometimes, the fast pace of our lives and a focus on our patients’ health means that we forget about our own physical and emotional wellbeing until there is an alarm bell or we fall ill.
We, as doctors, have a responsibility to ourselves, our patients and the healthcare system to take good care of our health and wellbeing – both mental and physical. If you have health concerns or feel you are experiencing significant stress, you should for certain seek assistance.
Some of the top causes of stress that we may face at some point in our careers are:
- Significant personal events in your own life such as bereavement or illness
- A heavy workload involving patient care, exams, academic responsibilities, audit, research and on-call
- Balancing service provision with your training needs
- Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
- Moving hospitals and home due to rotations
- Long working hours and lack of sleep
- Working in a high stakes environment
We recommend that all doctors, whether in training or not, monitor their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those around you helps develop your resilience and your ability to adapt to stress and adversity. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit both them and you.
The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has undertaken research in the area of Health and Wellbeing and has published a position paper ‘Caring for the Care-givers.’
You can access help and support on our website, www.rcpi.ie/physician-wellbeing
Please use the resources on our website which are available to all healthcare professionals.
Other supports that RCPI provides include:
- Trainee wellbeing visits on site
- Workshop for trainers- Managing the distressed trainee
- Curricula chapter on wellbeing across all of our specialties and levels
- Mentoring programme
- Meditation programme
- Wellbeing related courses:
- Building resilience in a stressful workplace
- Stress management
- Vicarious trauma – recognition and response
I have been very fortunate in my own career to have received support and encouragement from my seniors, mentors, colleagues, friends and family. Without them, I would have been less able to look after myself.
Be mindful of your own general wellbeing and that of your colleagues as part of your everyday role.