We know that being a doctor can be hard work, both physically and emotionally. As a provider of care, sometimes you need to be reminded of the importance of caring for yourself. Through our Physician Wellbeing programme we are providing support, training and information to doctors at all stages of their careers. We are pursuing innovative approaches to support the health of doctors and raising awareness of the importance of safeguarding doctors’ health and wellbeing.
Wellbeing relates to your physical, social and mental state. Our wellbeing depends on six main domains:
Wellbeing requires that basic needs are met, that you have a sense of purpose, and that you feel able to achieve important goals, to participate in society and to live the life you value and have reason to value.
Your wellbeing is enhanced by conditions that include financial and personal security, meaningful and rewarding work, supportive personal relationships, strong and inclusive communities, good health, a healthy and attractive environment (to live and work in) and values of democracy and social justice.
The evidence is clear: Doctors who enjoy good mental health and are ‘engaged’ achieve better patient outcomes. The wellbeing of an individual doctor, aside from being desirable in its own right, is essential in maintaining high standards and safety in medicine.
Doctors are not immune to illness and mental distress. Some studies even suggest that doctors are more prone to mental ill health than the general population.
In Ireland, doctors are becoming more vocal about the high prevalence of mental health disorders in the profession and the challenging working conditions that contribute to this.
The importance of self-care is evidenced by the fact that the Medical Council has referenced it in its three pillars of professionalism.
Doctors are at risk of the same illnesses of their patients, but they also experience higher than average rates of burnout, depression, anxiety, substance abuse problems, dysfunctional relationships and physical hazards. For various reasons, they can also be reluctant to address health issues and to access help.
Caring for the Care-giversOur position paper on Physician Wellbeing, 2014
We recommend that you take note of the advice and resources on these web pages. We are committed to supporting physician wellbeing throughout doctors’ working lives and this web resource is designed to help you look after your own wellbeing.
We advise you to monitor your physical and emotional wellbeing, and to seek assistance early if you have any concerns or feel you are experiencing significant stress. It is important to adhere to the medical advice and management plans of doctors who treat you. You have a responsibility to yourself, your family, your patients and the healthcare system to take good care of your health.
Being a patient can be difficult for doctors. Likewise, caring for other doctors requires particular sensitivity and skill. Doctors who treat other doctors might make assumptions about the doctor patient’s knowledge and might ask them to organise and interpret their own investigations.
We encourage doctors to provide support and assistance to colleagues in a confidential, sensitive and professional manner. This means reiterating the importance of the GP role, ensuring it is not by-passed and discouraging the casual or ‘corridor consultation’.