MMA Immediate Past President Lyle Swenson, M.D., made unifying physicians and supporting the bedrock principles of the profession the focus of his 2011-2012 term as president of the Minnesota Medical Association. This blog chronicled his views and activities during his year as president.
Recently I came across a documentary-style independent film written and directed by Ryan Flesher, M.D.The title is “The Vanishing Oath” and is a story about Dr. Flesher’s journey through burnout and his personal examination of the causes of distress that lead physicians to leave the clinical practice of medicine.Those of us in clinical practice know exactly what bothers him and others.He also interviews physicians around the country who have left medicine and allows them to tell their stories.Random people on the street are also interviewed about their take on physicians and medical care in general.I thought this film would be depressing but it was not.It is about an hour in length and is accessible to the general public.It would be an excellent holiday gift to your favorite insurance company CEO, malpractice attorney or legislator.Check it out.I believe I ordered it from Amazon.
Another very interesting book that I am almost done reading is titled Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness, Only More So, by Mark Vonnegut, M.D.(Yes, he is the son of Kurt Vonnegut.)Dr. Vonnegut experienced several psychotic breaks during his young adult years and was initially diagnosed with schizophrenia.He actually has bipolar disorder and is a practicing pediatrician who trained at HarvardMedicalSchool and Massachusetts GeneralHospital.It is fascinating to see a first person account of serious mental illness from a successful practicing physician and teacher.He also mentions many of the same frustrations noted in “The Vanishing Oath.”Yes, he is one of us.
It is comforting to see that the “elephants in the room” of medicine are exposed and acknowledged publicly by two articulate and courageous doctors.Both of these works are enlightening to anyone with an interest in the sociology of medicine.They might also be appropriate gifts to relatives who wonder why physicians need to attend to their wellbeing now more than ever.
I recently was invited to Rochester to speak about physician well-being to the clinicians at the Olmsted Medical Group. The group is unveiling a new program in professional wellness, led by a committee of four physicians. The first part of the program will be working on acute problems or distress, but further plans include preventive or proactive activities to enhance or maintain well-being in the medical workplace. I look forward to hearing about their progress over the next year and beyond. From the discussions that occurred after my presentation, it was evident that professional well-being is a timely topic indeed.
Many interesting ideas were generated by the Olmsted group. Allied professionals such as physician assistants and podiatry seem to have an interest in collaborating with us to promote wellbeing across professional disciplines. What a wonderful thought! Imagine what could happen if MMA combined forces with other health professionals in Minnesota to produce cutting-edge conferences and activities to revitalize our colleagues. Think of the valuable networking and relationships that would develop! If this dream excites you, too, I would love to hear from you, particularly if you want to help make them a reality.
Finally, let me share with you a short video recommended by our colleague, Dr. Craig Chambers. On You Tube called Validation. I think it will make your day.