Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 3 - Page 6


Physicians are suffering in silence . According to Psychiatry Advisor , 40 % of physicians are reluctant to seek mental health treatment . Mayo Clinic determined that 44 % of physicians experience burnout , and for primary care physicians , that number skyrockets to an overwhelming 79 %. Medscape reports that 41 % of medical professionals isolate themselves to deal with burnout , which obviously does not help anything . So , what are many of us doing about it ? Not enough . If we were handling these situations well , we would not be having this problem and we would not be having this discussion on an ongoing regular basis .

We are suffering in silence because we are not supposed to have struggles like everyone else , so we cover them up . We are not supposed to have any weaknesses , nor dare we be vulnerable in front of the wrong person , so we do not take that chance with anyone . We are supposed to be tough , strong , resilient and always full of compassion , empathy , knowledge , wisdom and enough energy to display all of these characteristics to all people at all times .
This problem is not going to correct itself , and no one else is coming to our rescue . Is the problem the health care system , or is the problem that we as physicians are not handling our situation and circumstances well ? It is the latter , of course . If we are to climb out of the pit we are in , we must first admit that we got ourselves into this predicament . Although our broken health care system presents serious and difficult problems that must be addressed , we need to stop sacrificing our mental and physical well-being in the process .
However , we all know the truth - we are human , and we make mistakes . Many among our physician ranks are struggling in varying degrees with a multitude of situations and circumstances . Sometimes we do not deal with stress well . Too many of us do not eat , exercise or relax like we should . We are not spending enough quality time with our spouses and families . And when we do spend time with our
4 LOUISVILLE MEDICINE families , we bring our stress right along with us and try to hide it .
We can do better than this , we need to do better than this , and we will do better than this . We must . There is no other choice . So , what do we do ? How do we approach this problem of historic proportion ? We do what we need to do ? We get together , we put our heads together , and we work it out together .
This is exactly what GLMS and the GLMS Foundation are doing . The GLMS Foundation recently launched a pioneering Physician Wellness Committee . Dr . Denise Puthuff chairs this committee and is already off to a strong start . She is leading the group in gathering ideas and determining direction and is already getting the ball rolling . This committee is planning on developing webinars , CME programs and in-person events and activities to significantly improve physician wellness . The GLMS officers are also joining this important endeavor and are now looking for opportunities to create events for physicians and their families to gather and support one another to improve well-being within . We will also be advertising and highlighting opportunities for you to serve with GLMS and the community in areas that are of interest and importance to you .
We need to develop better relationships and stronger bonds with one another to sharpen iron with each other , to offer encouragement and support , share knowledge and wisdom , and to help one another to be accountable for taking better care of ourselves . We must continue to learn and grow . And personal growth is a prerequisite for professional growth . We need to establish a good system with shared goals for personal growth to be successful . We all know the airplane and the one oxygen mask for you and your child scenario . The same applies for our patients ; we must take better care of ourselves first if we are going to take better care of our patients .
We need physicians who are personally doing very well emotionally , psychologically , mentally and physically to show up and help those who need a little support . The truth is that we can all improve .