Posted by on May 27, 2015 | 0 comments

Three Magic Words

Remember when we were at school and the teacher would ask a question, and a bunch of hands would instantly shoot up? It was an exhilarating feeling to raise your hand confidently, knowing that you knew the answer. At other times, though, it wouldn’t work out so well. Those times when you put your hand up, thinking you knew, and then faced the humiliation of finding out you were wrong. Or worse still, not putting your hand up and still being picked on by the teacher to give an answer you knew you didn’t have. I don’t think I ever heard any of my classmates say “I don’t know”. We all either enthusiastically blurted out the answers, fumbled our way through best guesses, or sat rigid in humiliated silence waiting for the teacher to move on to someone else. It was never okay to say “I don’t know”. What would our school experience have been like had our teachers accepted “I don’t know” as a valid answer? I suspect...

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Posted by on May 12, 2015 | 0 comments

A Silent Epidemic

A few months ago I created a Google Alert for “burnout in healthcare”. Google Alerts are simply notices you can set up which tell you when a particular topic is mentioned on the internet. I’m astounded at the number of alerts I get on this topic: there are articles on the prevalence of burnout amongst healthcare professionals; research findings showing that nearly half (46%) of physicians in the USA are burned out; studies indicating that doctors are more at risk of suicide than the general population … the list goes on. When I left medical practice more than 10 years ago I didn’t know that the feelings of discontent, disengagement and sheer exhaustion even had a diagnosis. I assumed what I was feeling was personal to me. Yet it has become obvious through the research I’ve been doing – including the many conversations I’ve had with doctors and their families – that burnout is endemic in the healthcare sector. In fact, it is a common feature of many helping...

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