“I want to be a doctor but what if I just get burned out?”

Modern medical practice can be stressful and workloads feel like they are becoming heavier each day. Many doctors feel like this is a WDYDWYDKWTD (What do you do when you don’t know what to do?) situation; they really want to be doctors, yet worry this will be a fast route to burn out and misery.

This is really a team-working issue; although we have to do our own work, we contribute in a context, which can help or hinder us. Inspired by a recent column in the British Journal of General Practice “Ten Commandments for the resilient practitioner” (see ref 1), I chewed over the idea that there might be some values and attitudes which nourish and restore us. I think we will be successful, happy and effective when we;

CHERISH our humanity and that of our colleagues, family and patients; attend to basic needs like food, and also to what is unique and valuable about all of us.

CONNECT with others in our work, and in our community (colleagues, patients, family); we survive and thrive in relationships that we nurture, and which nurture us.

Be COLLECTIVE not individual. We are stronger together, its not just about “look after myself” but also “look after each other” and “work together”.

COOPERATE to devise systems and responses to pressure, that use the collective power of everyone working together; re-imagining, resisting, reinventing, re-engineering things. This makes work easier, better, safer and is better done collectively.

CO-CREATE the narrative of what happens, do not just be the recipient of stress/instructions/other peoples ideas; create and proclaim the true value and meaning of our work for ourselves. Working for something we believe in brings happiness.

CONFER with others; daily about work, successes and failures, also in education (talking is better than e learning), a trip to a conference can be energising and inspiring and makes for better CONNECTIONS.

COMMIT by being there. Long term relationships with colleagues are enriching and so are long term relationships with patients.  CONTINUITY brings satisfactions that can outweigh many stresses. CARE and be KIND to yourself and others.

CELEBRATE what works, the connections and values that sustain us, and remember that ours is a tough gig…disease, suffering and death are our daily business,just as prevention, healing and support are too.. THIS IS IMPORTANT STUFF and will be hard, especially when starting a career. Connecting with others, cooperating and celebrating makes us stronger, more effective (and we will have a lot more fun).

Reference 1) Ten Commandments for the resilient practitioner 

Simon Tobin, and Neal Maskrey

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