I am probably not the most qualified to write this piece as I am only a few days shy of being in my 10th month of internship. Albeit, for the period I have been in this program, I have met residents from various specialties and sub-specialties. This has given me a look-in in various medical skills and knowledge as well as social and life skills. I have seen firsthand and heard of how doctors burn out completely with little or no help in view, because of this I am conferring with you to hopefully resolve to heal ourselves.
I heard an anecdote about an incident in children emergency where one of the patient’s relatives said in Yoruba “kí ó sì ti rí ọmọ mi kí ó tó dákú’’ which translates to- ‘’he should have seen my child before he fainted’’- after a medical personnel blacked out. This is both humorous and terrifying as it goes to show not a lot of people care about the well-being of doctors. Also, I came across a story on one of the social media platforms where after a doctor committed suicide the public was more concerned about the number of patients that would have been vaccinated had he not killed himself.
Healthcare workers are not okay — I can almost hear this doctor from the Yoruba tribe say, ‘I am okay in Jesus’s name’-but are we okay? We fight SILENT battles physically, mentally, financially because we are trained to keep going, people need us. We can not ‘leave it at work’ as we are mentally involved with our patients, caring for them round the clock while working in suboptimal conditions which most of the time is entirely out of our control.
It’s needless to list snags and difficulties we face in the line of work as we are living examples of the testament. At present, saving the lives of others should not cost our own. It’s high time we prioritised our wellness, safety, and mental health. We need to be able to wear our concerns on our sleeves when the need arises, we should unlearn the fallacy of fading out our true emotions and be steely invulnerable.
The question is, ‘how do we do this?’
One thing I have learned is; there is a need to find that one thing that takes you out of patients, pills, and portions. It should be your happy place, a flair that preferably also makes you money.
Dear doctor, do not let anyone guilt you into pathological altruism. Physician, heal thyself is a biblical directive. It goes on to say; whatever we have heard done in Capernaum do also here in thy country. Another translation says ‘…do miracles here in your home town like those you did in Capernaum. Do to your body(country) as you would to your patients (Capernaum), your body deserves ‘miracles’ too!