You could say that we, Emergency clinicians: doctors, nurses, clerks, orderlies, cleaners, everyone that make up our team in ED, have never lived in more challenging times. The pandemic, access block, climate change, the list goes on. So you could argue that there has never been a more important time to think about looking after ourselves as well as our colleagues and our patients.
Of course “wellness” and “wellbeing” are not positive terms to some people – yoga and cupcakes do not suddenly right the ills in the world and these are in fact toxic concepts for some, kind of like blaming you for not being happy when you should be. None-the-less I will push on and try to put down some of my thoughts on wellbeing, connection, and compassion.
Over the years I have gathered some tips and tricks from a variety of sources.
On professional level: Emergency medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to deal with uncertainty, grief, failure & disappointment. But we can gain a lot of satisfaction from the camaraderie, working shoulder to shoulder in a horizontal hierarchy that are all ED staff, sharing the stress, the laughter, the grief and celebrating our many victories of good patient outcomes. I love our emergency medicine tribe – don’t forget we are the most exciting 15 minutes of every speciality.
A Japanese concept of Ikigai – something that gives your life meaning: doing what you love, something you are good at, something that you get paid for, and that benefits society. It is a privilege to be able to line all of these up.
Build: a safe system, achievable goals, workforce growth & retention, resilience, conflict resolution, trust, and a safe and just culture
Peer: connection, support, belonging, engagement, a career portfolio and plan (in 5-yr segments), of course our College is a great example of this
Enjoy: Wellness has physical, emotional and spiritual components, all of which are different in everyone, life balance, interests outside medicine, exercise, a good diet, family time, alone time, show kindness, and learn to look up. And you cannot be happy all of the time.
We need to accept imperfection. The enemy of good is better. Excellence is possible, perfection is not. Learn from your mistakes and move on. “There is a crack, a crack in everything, it is where the light gets in” (Leonard Cohen)
And finally, look after yourself first, and you will be in a better place to look after others. Never forget the compassion: for your patients, your colleagues, and for yourself.
Kia kaha – be strong