Wounds Under the White Coat

When was the last time you opened up about how your job was making you feel? I mean honestly got in touch with the emotions you were experiencing not just bitching about this or that and how nothing/everything changes?

I see this as one area of improvement in the physician world. How many times do we examine others for wounds, hidden pathology, ouchies but fail to do the same for ourselves?

How many times do we interact with a patient, do an excellent job for them but walk away from the situation a little (or a lot) beat up ourselves?

When do we give ourselves the time to heal, mend, process?

For many physicians, this was a skill set never taught to them. It was always, “Move on to the next room” -or- “It wasn’t that bad” -or- “Don’t cry/show emotion in front of patients/staff. It shows you’re weak and they won’t respect you.”

Obviously, there’s a time and a place to debrief but, seriously, when’s the last time you did?

Recently, I’ve been advocating and promoting physician gatherings to help docs shed their clinical personna and allow the person underneath to be seen.

I’m proud to say that this approach is helping colleagues. Because just like with any ulcer, if it’s undiscovered, it will still cause harm. Like any abscess, if it’s not opened and drained, it likely will only worsen. 

I ask, “Do you have any lingering sores that need exposed so they can heal?” 

Are there still patient encounters or events that you still think on, dream about or flash back to maybe even if they happened 3, 5 or 10 years ago? 

Does a certain diagnosis send chills up your spine because you automatically are back in the past? 

Are there particular places, people or things you avoid because it triggers uncomfortable emotions or memories?

If so, my friend…it’s time to take off the white coat and just talk, feel and be. You can do this formally with a therapist, coach or debriefing specialist. You can do it informally with a peer, colleague or trusted friend. It’s time…just start talking!

If you are seeking this type of support, Dr. Weisman encourages you to reach out to her HERE.

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Errin Weisman DO

Errin Weisman, DO is the self-proclaimed wellness guru on Authentic Medicine. She is a life coach, podcaster and fierce advocate for wellness in medicine. She faced professional burnout early in her career and speaks openly about her story in order to help others, particularly female physicians and working moms, know they are not alone. Dr. Weisman wholeheartedly believes to be a healer, you must first fill your own cup. She lives and practices life coaching and medicine in rural Southwestern Indiana, loves her roles as farmer’s wife, athlete and mother of three.You can find out more about Dr. Weisman on her podcast Doctor Me First, her website truthrxs.com or hang out with her on social media @truthrxs. Her podcast is “Doctor Me First”. 

  3 comments for “Wounds Under the White Coat

  1. Kurt
    September 19, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    I think gripping about the system and how it pi$$es oneself off is not an issue. Saying one is depressed and suicidal is an issue best not discussed unless one wants their license scrutinized as mentioned. Suicidality does need to be addressed no matter what if one is on that plane of thinking. Doug had posted here before that a small medical school class size is lost yearly from physicians who kill themselves. Sad, very sad.
    Me? I’m very positive as I’m 24 months from retirement and have a lot of plans for me and my son. Lost my wife this year to a quick illness and have all the support I need from friends and family. No drugs either. I’m sad but not depressed. I’ve done a life inventory and am very happy to say I am content. If I had done anything different, it might not have led to the 30 years of happiness I had with my wife.

  2. Mindy Miller
    September 15, 2019 at 1:16 am

    I have gotten to the point that I just don’t care what colleagues think or if it affects my medical license . . . Better than being dead from suicide.
    Working now to change things and know that life can be better. I would love to help other docs find their own path one day.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Sir Lance-a-lot
    September 14, 2019 at 6:41 am

    Sorry, Doc, but to open up in front of a colleague or a professional requires trust, and, as noted in previous responses, there is none left in the medical profession.
    Anything I say in front of another doctor (socially or as my paid therapist) can lead to me being reported, having my license taken or restricted, and end my career.

    So, No, even in front of those who seem like the “good” doctors, I will keep my trap shut, and complain about the usual affronts, and leave it at that.
    The price of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person is just too high.

    Thanks for the offer though.

    And, Doug, PS: I ASSume that my identifying information is not accessible to your “outside” contributors. I would hate to be turned in for any of my posts here by some well-meaning blogger.

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