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Physician Wellness Tips Part 2

cursive writing the word mindfulness on a white placecard on the window sill

Physician Wellness Tips Part 2

In this blog post, we will explore five more physician wellness tips.  In Physician Wellness Tips Part 1 we explored five simple ways to aid in wellness. These tips were as follows:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Get enough sleep
  3. Drink water
  4. Get in movement
  5. Smile

These five simple tips are significant first steps toward wellness for physicians and other professionals. Admittedly, I have a vested interest in this topic because of my personal experience with physician burnout. Honestly, I believe that our wellness is sacred and the penultimate component to performing at our best.

So, let’s explore the five wellness tips this blog post features.  These tie in nicely with the previous tips mentioned previously and above.

Physician Wellness Tips

6. Take Vitamins

The truth is that if you are eating a well balanced nutritious diet, then you may not need a multivitamin. However, most of us are lacking in our nutrition for various reasons. If we practice a restrictive diet like for example veganism, then there is a possibility that we may have low levels of certain B vitamins found in animal products. In this case, taking supplemental B vitamins may be necessary. Folate aids in the developing babies and is vital for pregnant women to consume.

There have been several studies that highlight the energy improvement effects of B complex and vitamin C. Then of course during those long winter months when there is a paucity sun-derived vitamin D, supplementing this vitamin can be very helpful. Dr. Danny Spencer, a fellow Emergency Physician, created a vitamin blend for night shift workers called Night Revive.

Taking a multivitamin can be a simple way to help reduce the risk of micronutrient deficiencies and help with cognitive functioning. There are several herbal blends that aid in digestion and absorption leading to better utilization of the food we eat. An excellent probiotic and source of omega3 go a long way for good gut health and overall body function. If you are curious about which herbal blend tops your holistic assessment click here and fill out a short survey.

7. Write

In my blog post, Writing to Prevent Physician Burnout, I discuss several straightforward ways to express our emotions and thoughts through writing. Writing enables us to share our frustrations, ideas, and feelings leading to wellness. Writing is therapeutic and healing.

You can start by just writing in a journal. Journaling will provide an intimate outlet for pent-up feelings and emotions. The great thing about journaling is that it is accessible at any time and provides an everpresent outlet.

brown hand holding a fountain pen about to write on a blank journal page

Photo credit: Rawpixel

If you develop a penchant for writing, then there are several ways to communicate your thoughts to the world. There is blogging, of course, writing articles, writing novels and short stories.

Here are several platforms to contribute your work to KevinMD, Doximity, and Medscape.  FemInEM, Women in White Coats, and #SoMeDocs are some physician-led blogs that accept guest bloggers. So get out your pen and paper or your laptop and start sharing your ideas!

One of the writing projects that I have had to honor to be a part of is the collaborative book, The Chronicles of Women in White Coats. This experience was very transformative and resulted in a fantastic opportunity for self-expression and created a connection to a support network of strong women.

8. Mindfulness and Presence

Mindfulness is another everywhere tool that aids in physician wellness and combating physician burnout. The dictionary definition of mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Presence is defined as the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing. Mindfulness and presence are both appropriate tools for physician wellness.

Often when we are caring for patients, especially in the Emergency Department, there are distractions, interruptions, and unchecked emotions. In a busy department, the transition from having a patient loss to the next patient to be… Click To Tweet As humans, we develop coping mechanisms for survival.

cursive writing the word mindfulness on a white placecard on the window sill

Photo credit: Lesly Juarez

As an Emergency physician, one way to deal with these intense emotions has been to shove them deep into their emotional compartment to move on to giving to my next patient.  This compartmentalization, as it facilitates progress through a shift, also builds and chips away at wellness. A better mechanism is to practice mindfulness and presence. Debriefing immediately after an emotionally charged case is therapeutic and practical. Debriefing allows the members of the care team to express their emotions and thoughts in a safe environment.

The catharsis of a debrief followed by a few moments of mindfulness goes a long way towards rebuilding the psyche and allowing for your presence with subsequent patients. Click To Tweet Recognizing that sometimes a good cry is what is needed is also a part of mindfulness. Taking the time to acknowledge these emotions, deliberately addressing them and then mentally dealing with them is very helpful. Then taking a minute or two to prepare mentally to be present for the next patient is tremendously effective.

Even in the chaotic environment that is the Emergency Department, mindfulness and presence can aid in the prevention of physician burnout. Try it during your next clinical shift and start to see the effects of this practice.

9. Get Engaged

Get engaged. Get involved. Be the change you want to see. Often we notice systems or processes that make our job more arduous and ultimately can chip away at physician wellness. Part of physician burnout is a feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. It is natural to shift to complaining about a problem instead of looking for a solution. We usually don’t do this on purpose, but when the problem appears to be well above our perceived ability, then our default is to complain.

Photo credit: Mike Wilson

Solving problems of systems and process may be more straightforward than we perceive. It may start with having a conversation with stakeholders. Then it may lead to a brain trust developed solution. The small change that we make may lead to an overall departmental change. In other words, getting involved at the micro level can ripple change on the macro level. If there is something that is bothering you, starting with a conversation may reveal that you have company in sentiment. Pushing forward toward making a change also signals to your colleagues that you are a problem solver. This reputation can open doors to other opportunities to get involved in the department, the hospital and the community.

If you are interested in making changes from the political side of things then getting involved in local, state, and national professional organizations may meet that need. As physicians, we tend to put our heads down and care for patients while many outside of medicine make decisions for us. Be the change you want to see. We need more physicians running for office and working to protect the rights of our patients. Again, running for a local office post is a great place to start. From there, the state legislature and even national legislature are possible.

Involvement stems from community organizations as well. Getting involved taps into our deep human desire to give back. There is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs when you are serving others – there is no time to dwell on your problems. Helping other humans renews a spark in us. This flash then becomes a flame which ignites psychological wellness.

five fists come together over a table

Photo credit: Rawpixel

10. Fellowship

Get to know your tribe. The team that you work with every day is your work tribe. Research has shown that doing social events with co-workers helps tremendouly with teambuilding and cooperation.

The dictionary definition of fellowship is a friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests. So in our case, our shared interest is in the care of our patients. When we interact with colleagues outside of work, we get an opportunity to get to know them leading to greater trust and camaraderie.

When we feel like part of a team, we are less likely to feel alone and helpless. Being able to relate to team members on a personal level leads to increased engagement and trust. Click To Tweet When your work tribe is all in, there is less of a chance for inefficiencies because everyone on the team starts to look for solutions instead of problems.

When you come to work, and you feel like part of a team, you are less stressed. Reduced stress leads to improved physician wellness.

Well, that is it. There are a total of ten physician wellness tips in this blog series. Be sure to read Physician Wellness Tips Part 1 for tips 1-5.

Be strong. Be brave. Unleash your greatness!

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Charmaine Gregory

I am a nocturnist Emergency Physician, wife, mom to three vivacious cherubs as well as a greatness and virtual fitness coach. I help busy women like myself reclaim their fitness and wellness mojo and unleash their greatness! Watch my story and get a complimentary health assessment here: My Story If you are like me and have picky eaters in your fold, join my Facebook group, Picky Eaters Strong Mom here: Picky Eater Strong Mom Facebook Group

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