Wellbeing is the state of feeling happy, healthy and comfortable. Writing this blog post could not have come at a better time because 11 months into being doctor and I can admit that I am not at the level of health or overall happiness that I was once at. Things were a lot worse, especially in the peak of the pandemic, but after taking some time off work and implementing the changes I am going to discuss, I can say that I am not where I want to be but I am not where I used to be.
Being a Doctor is a very fulfilling and amazing job (one I will not change and am very grateful to have) but with many things in life, it comes at a cost, especially in your junior years. We all know that medical school can leave you very isolated from your non-medic friends. I remember summer nights and weekends in which I missed house parties, festivals, weddings and even THE Afronation all in the name of OSCE practice and medical school exams!
I told myself that things will get better once I become a foundation doctor and I can confirm to you that, I was mistaken.
The transition from being the most experienced student in your medical school to the least experienced at work is one that greatly affects your confidence and leads to anxiety. Many medics have a Type A personality; so having to admit that I did not know everything, feeling anxious about my decision making, and having to understand hospital politics, led to several encounters that convinced me that I did not deserve to be a doctor.
Professional medical training is varied depending on the hospital you work at but one thing is guaranteed. That is, as a junior doctor, you will feel like a glorified secretary more often that not and you often have to tie up the loose ends with very little extrinsic affirmation. I say this not be pessimistic, but to give you a real insight into the emotions that many of my colleagues and I have experienced during our time so far. But as you progress and your emotional intelligence develops, things get a lot better.
I can recall a time in which I was doing a discharge summary, HANGRY (this is a colloquial term to describe the anger you experience when you are very hungry) and I prescribed a patients antibiotics as twice daily as opposed to three times daily. After being bleeped by the very polite screening pharmacist in order to clarify my prescription, I was convinced that I was the worst doctor and my patient would have gotten sepsis and died because of my prescribing skills. I went into a rabbit hole of pessimism and lost confidence in myself which in turn made the problem worse. After a prolonged period of self-development and deep reflection, I soon realised that my wellbeing was in a terrible state, and that was not due to my professional medical training, but due to the importance I had placed on my medical training.
Below are some tips I implemented which greatly improved my psychological and social wellbeing.
1. Everything has equal importance
This is a concept I learned very recently. Everything has equal importance or nothing has
importance at all. We often find that when we place too much importance onto something, we often achieve the very opposite effect to what we desired. One thrives in life when an equal importance is placed onto everything. The desire and drive you have to become an amazing doctor and making sure your DOPS are signed off, is the same you should have towards prioritising your mental health and ensuring that time spent with your family and friends is ticked off your check list.
Foundation training can be time consuming but with real intentionality and learning how to