I have previously blogged my growing dissatisfaction with my life as it is here, here, and here. It all started here. This year has been an intensive exercise in attitude adjustment. It’s been a real struggle to stay positive.
In any case, I want to talk about physicians today. I’m truly disappointed with my lot. I think as physicians we should be able to count on each other for support for no-one else understands the unique sacrifices we make and the stressors we encounter on a day to day basis. But we are penalized by our licensing boards and hospitals for seeking help and we become gossip fodder amongst ourselves when we do. We’ve gotten so used to pimping each other and making disparaging
remarks about each other that we don’t support each other the way we should.
I shouldn’t be surprised. In medical school, I learnt that physicians have a high rate of depression, divorce, and suicide. Then, it was all so abstract but I see it now all around. It’s a shame truly. We are stripped of our humanity, belittled by the politicians and insurance companies into “providers”, and stretched to the limit. And it’s not slated to get better with Obamacare.
I am surprised though a little at myself. You see, I do not walk around calling myself a physician. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound right. Let me explain. Doctoring is what I do, not who I am. A waste of medical school you say? Maybe. But if I don’t breathe, eat, and shit medicine, then I should be able to rise above it all and not be a statistic, right. Should being the operative word. I think I still can with this formula. There is life outside of medicine and I intend to live it. But it’s quite hard with all these holier than though judgmental cynics I call colleagues.
I am my number one patient. Much like the instructions given on a plane, “put on your own mask before you help another…even your child”.
Last winter was terrible. I had started my job search in anticipation of making my escape from “my village” and things were not going according to plan. Given that I needed physician references I decided to share my plan to leave with a respected physician who I thought I could trust. The thing is I’m quite an excellent doctor and have gained the respect of many colleagues and C-suite administrators. Thus, I did not want them to know I wanted to leave. That I needed to leave for my own good. A “it’s not you, it’s me” parting scenario.
I thought I would be understood. Should I have seen it coming? It was as if letting it known that I was unhappy was like handing them a knife and letting them skewer it deeper and deeper into my back. Seriously, within a week of this confidential disclosure, I had multiple administrators and physicians trying to convince me to stay. I had now become the topic of discussion. But tell me this, how do you convince someone in hell to stay when there are several exit doors? Locked exit doors maybe, but they are still exit doors. Further into personal isolation I went because I had not yet figured the code to any of these exit doors, metaphorically speaking of course, and here I was being pulled back by people who did not see the 100% of my life and that me leaving was really the best thing for me. For me. To top it off, my out-of state friends also had priorities to take care of. Testes before besties apparently! And the cherry on the real top, was my mother asking incessantly for her grandchild. Woman, were you not there three years ago when I lamented the foreseeable emptiness of my social life? Did you not tell me not to worry, that I would still be young when I was done with my contract? Why the harassment now? Selfish much?
Well, if there’s one thing I can say about myself is that I am a very proud (or is that stubborn) person. I said K’Chie, no way are you going to let these people destroy you. No way are you going to let them pull you down into that abyss.
We physicians truly should have better compassion for each other. We are our own worst enemy. Seeking help apparently is tantamount to destroying one’s career. We are stigmatized for showing that we too are human. That’s just wrong.