March: Choosing Well-Being
Each day brings its many stressors. The pace is set early in the day. Your schedule is filled with a long list of patients to treat. You may need to see patients who are in pain or crisis, with needs you may or may not be able to meet. And after each patient, of course, you are faced with seemingly endless documentation. Staff and colleagues look to you to make decisions, answer questions and give direction. Phone calls and e-mails require a response. As a physician, you have been trained to stretch and adjust yourself to accommodate these demands and more. Years of practice help to mitigate your reaction to these situations.
You may feel up to the tasks at hand. They may feel energizing and fulfilling. You may greet each new experience with confidence and enthusiasm. But, this depends upon the resources you have available to you on any given day. When your needs are met, you are more likely to be able to access seemingly unlimited internal resources. However, when your needs are not met, it can be hard to keep up the pace without it taking its toll.
Maintaining well-being can be a challenge when the work culture and requirements of the job ask you to put your needs behind that of those you serve. So, balancing work and well-being requires making a choice. You need to make an intentional decision to seek out activities that support your well-being. What does this look like? Often, it’s as simple as paying attention. Maintaining well-being is also about living in a way that is consistent with your values.
- What do your reactions to a specific situation tell you about what you need?
- Does your life reflect the values most important to you?
- What do you value the most?
- How high is your well-being on your list of values?
The Colorado Medical Society and its Expert Panel on Physician Wellness have taken on the goal of improving physician wellness and reducing burnout in 2014. A crucial partner in the effort are the experts at the Behavioral Health and Wellness Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, who will develop a toolkit over the next year specifically tailored to physicians to address the eight dimensions of wellness with a focus on stress and burnout. BHWP experts will provide monthly web posts and encourage CMS members to provide feedback to shape the development of the toolkit. Above is the third in the series. Go to www.cms.org/resources/category/physician-wellness to view others in the series.