Today, I attended a medical school graduation (Congrats BSOM Class of 2019 & Dr. Dep!). Towards the end, all of the physicians stood up to recite “The Physician’s Pledge.” While they were saying the lines (ones which included promises such as to respect the autonomy & dignity of the patient), one, in particular, stood out to me:
“I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard…” – The Physician’s Pledge
It seems to me that part of the duty of the physician is to take care of ONE OWN’S HEALTH, not just the health of others. This should extend to the [often overlooked] mental health of physicians!
I see headline after headline highlighting the research of major issues in this field, such as high rates of physician burnout, untreated mental illness, high suicide rates, and crippling stigma. These issues should be addressed- not just via some half-hearted lecture on medical student/physician mental health- but through action!
As my boyfriend is nearing the start of residency, I am hearing a lot about what others have experienced during their own time as a resident. It is almost as if sacrificing everything (sleep, family time, physical health, & mental health) is simply the expectation. Older doctors are looking back and creating lighthearted jokes [about things like extreme sleep deprivation and being constantly overworked] regarding an unhealthy work atmosphere, one which seems like the ultimate breeding ground for mental health problems and mental illness.
This does not benefit the doctor nor their patients.
What will it take for this line of “The Physician’s Pledge” to be taken just as seriously as the rest of them?