I was not going to share this but have been inspired by the courage of others around me. So thank you!
I also realized that if I want to be part of a movement of change, I cannot demand transparency from a system without being willing to be transparent in my own experiences. This demands a level of vulnerability this is not easy or pretty. However, it becomes completely worth it when finding strength in yourself leads to others finding strength in themselves. This type of momentum is similar to the “Shirtless dancing guy video”. I know that I am not the first to share this, so I just hope that as I courageously followed, others to may follow and put an end to situations that give life the thoughts and feelings that I have experienced.
Graduation day was the best experience of my life. I was finally a doctor! I was going to make a difference. I had such happiness about my life and the difference that I was about to make in the world and nothing could stop me or my joy. There was nothing that could wipe that smile off of my face and joy from my heart.
In the first few days of Residency, we had a mandatory “Emotional Harm” meeting. I thought it was nice of them to do and always a good reminder. It focused on the empathy towards the patient and not losing our empathy when getting in the rhythm of dealing with similar situations and cases over and over again. I loved that they did this. This is something that is so important to remember and necessary to address.
Looking back however, I just wonder what about my emotional harm? Where are my resources? In this first 7 months of my residency experience two Senior Attendings committed suicide. I did not know the first, but I certainly knew the second. While there was heartfelt sadness and memorials to honor both, there was nothing else. No counseling offered to employees, no conversations, no checking in after some days, nothing at all.
Why are these things important? Because over the course of my first year of residency, I have become more depressed than I ever thought possible in my life. Without getting into specifics the combination of the stress, hours, being made to feel constantly devalued or unimportant, the verbal abuse, the fact that even when I do good its not good, among many other feelings on an almost daily basis, have caused me to be in a place that I never have been….So when these two people directly linked to the place that has been causing my pain decided to take their lives, where was I supposed to turn? Where were my co-resident’s supposed to turn? Let me offer that I am fine now, but that is no thanks to my system. But what about those that don’t have the opportunity or courage to turn to where I turned for help?
The human factors mindset is so important. The focus on learning instead of punishing is something that should never be overlooked. If I felt more support as such, I know that my experience would have been different. We are all humans and make mistakes. Rarely are errors done with malice intent. Chances are something in the system failed the employee. I think the mental health of healthcare worker’s is vital because I want to know that that person has no other distractions when caring for my loved one.
I am not saying offer full on counseling sessions for employees because I understand the money factor, but something should be done. This is why I really love the idea that a part of the “Go team” implements having a conversation with the person that committed the error. ….A small example, when there are shootings on school campuses, you always here on the news that counselors will be available to talk with students. Why can’t we do the same? I believe that a conversation can change an outcome and save a life on both sides of the health care equation.