There are so many ways to tackle this question and a popular topic among them is burnout. I’m not going to pepper you with residency burnout statistics. A quick search in PubMed for “burnout” will yield over a thousand articles describing the problem from an array of measurements and perspectives. But you don’t have time to sift through all that information. You’re in residency right now. You’re breathing the 75-degree, sanitized air of the hospital everyday, & just trying to survive.
One solution for the puzzle when I spoke up about the problems in residency was this easy promise of things getting better. The promise of independent medical practice beyond residency sounded good at the time to just focus on getting through. But as residency progressed, & I got caught up in the busyness of day-to-day life, there was a slow change in my inner life. I noticed this growing sense of feeling hurried, hollow, and demoralized, and turns out that doesn’t end with residency.
As a profession, we discuss the suffering of the inner life as burnout, and typically throw wellness activities, lectures, and working groups at the problem to try and fix it.
And yet, many residents continue to feel the slow slipping of the inner life. I joked about this on breaks away from residency and told my wife, “I almost feel human again.” And to tell the truth, it took close to 2-3 months after graduating from residency to feel, “like myself again.” As I’ve spoken with other physicians, many experience this slow shifting in the inner life. All too often the residency experience increasingly feels hurried, hollow, & demoralizing, and residents like you need to find more rest, fulfillment, and clarity during your current season of life. Beyond Surviving Residency will help with this along three domains:
My goal for our time together is to bring rest & rhythm to your busyness, point toward sources of fulfillment, & bring clarity to our shared conception of “the good physician.”
A disclaimer: Any discussion of spiritual wellness within medical professionals will include an array of perspectives, each person bringing unique ways of living and thinking that I believe will leaven the medical education process if we are not afraid to consider it. However, as a person of faith, my discussions & contribution toward resident spiritual wellness comes from a Christocentric faith tradition. This is how I make sense of the world, where I find the greatest fulfillment, & the only way I can conceive to help the inner life of residents. My intent is not to shame or proselytize, but rather to model a way for health professionals to bring their “full selves” to this conversation. My hope for you is that seeing the professional life through a different lens will awaken your imagination to a new life in residency. One of rest, fulfillment, and clarity.
The weekly reflection is designed with the hope of sparking conversations wherever you find yourself!
This week think on any of our big three questions: