Tis that time of the year Once more the time for reflection and resolutions is upon us, and, for doctors, this might involve examining our private and professional personae. For many, the professional persona is caught in a spiral of despondency arising from the challenges and conflicts of modern medicine. For a few, professional despair overwhelms the private persona and ends in divorce from either medicine or partner. For others, a career is destroyed by substance abuse or by suicide.
Do the attitudes to and expectations of our profession weigh too heavily on us? Do they make us peculiarly vulnerable to the tensions between our private and professional personae. Do too many of us find ourselves unable to cope?
It seems that the solution lies in periods of solitude and introspection, during which we may explore our professional and private values and judge just how closely these are reflected in our lives the ultimate goal being to secure individual wellness.
But how can this wellness be sustained? In her essay The 12 commandments of wellness, Shay Bintliff, a US surgeon, suggests practising quality through a commitment to learning and acquiring new expertise; fostering a healthy work environment with free communication and praise where it is due; joining professional and other support groups; participating in community activities; maintaining a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition, exercise and regular quiet times; taking meaningful time away from work for family and friends; dealing with personal anger; sharing our negative feelings with at least one trusted person; approaching each day with a positive attitude; and finally, employing self-compassion by being gentle with ourselves.