How Did That Happen?: Human

This week’s How Did That Happen? should have been posted, well, last week.stethoscopes1

I have had some busy days including journal club prepping, trying to spend time with friends, go to Patrick’s work party, volunteering, keeping a clean house and getting a cold (I blame Patrick’s grubby kids). I actually had a long weekend thanks to an in-lieu day left over from Easter weekend call, so I have had the chance to do some movie watching and all around procrastination.

For any number of reasons both work and personally related, I have been feeling drained and down and all around kind of blah. It happens. I have a high baseline, so it weirds me out, but I must confess that it has been a recurring theme.

My How Did That Happen? is that I am human despite what medical institution says. I have known it all along, but just for the rest of the world, I will point it out.

People in medicine still get tired and sick and depressed.

We still have relationships.

We struggle with things like loss, fear and anxiety.

We have big joys and big sorrows.

We have regrets and make mistakes.

People in medicine still often have financial struggles. Just because we are there doesn’t mean we still aren’t paying off loans.

People in medicine are still learning. No matter where they are in their career. If they aren’t, there is a bigger issue.

People in medicine sometimes struggle with things we have to do in our jobs. Sometimes decisions we make haunt us.

We sometimes face our biggest fears in the eyes of others.

We don’t always have time to face those fears in ourselves.

Knowing that I am human is one of the best things I can know. Because it stops me from trying to be invincible all the time. Even when the world I am in sometimes acts as if that is not the case.

There is no fix for being human.

And for that I am glad (although, a cure for the common cold would be nice).

But, being human in medicine is a tightrope to walk with some of the pressures we all face.

Brian Goldman, an ER physician in Toronto and very talented speaker had this piece featured in the Globe and Mail today about physician burnout. I thought he voiced some of the common concerns about physician burnout today very well.

More accurately, the medical culture that fosters us is the problem. It’s a culture that implies you should strive to be perfect even though you’re human – one that encourages you to run from your feelings even though you can’t hide from them.

I don’t know how to fix burnout or how to fix our system. But, I think at least pointing out that I am human and treating the other humans I work with as human is a start.

During our first-year medicine exams, a classmate sent out this song to remind us that we are, in fact, not robots.

I still sing it to myself on days where I start being a bit too robot-like. It helps.

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6 thoughts on “How Did That Happen?: Human

  1. This is a really important reminder, so thanks for that. 🙂 Often I feel as though I’m not allowed to have feelings or really care about my patients, which is kind of awful. I hope I can hold on to my humanity.

    • I feel like that sometimes too. There is a difference between taking too much home and caring. Just like there is a difference between not caring and an appropriate level of detachment (detachment doesn’t feel like the right word here, but it is all I have at the moment). They are fine lines. I like to lean more towards the caring line.
      The fact that you feel that way makes me think you can hold on to your humanity. 🙂

  2. Human beings are the only sort of doctors I’ve every met – and human beings are imperfect and honest and eager and often wrong. You can’t be a doctor without being one.

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