FACT: 400 Canadian doctors die by their hand, every year!
My blog today is inspired by an emotionally charged photo that has recently surfaced. The doctor is kneeling by a wall, and is in tears over the loss of a 19 year old patient. The picture is a reminder that doctors (and health care providers) are human just like the rest of us and OF COURSE they can suffer from depression.
The Doctor who “FEELS” and is Empathetic Needs to be Protected!
Doctors who FEEL what others are experiencing, need to be protected, acknowledged and applauded.
Crying after a patient dies is perfectly normal, and absolutely human. Any doctor (or health care provider) who shows such genuine and raw emotion, should be supported – not chastised.
Doctors experience countless tragedies over the course of their career. When these providers have these experiences, I believe that they continue on one-of-three paths:
- The SUPER HERO Doctor! These providers are authentically human. They have compassion and sincere concern for their patients. They also possess a heightened sense of protection for their patients. Not every doctor is able to ingest the complexities of others – this is what makes them exceptional.
- The SUPER HERO Doctor in NEED! These providers have given so much of themselves to others, that they have depleted their own resources. These kind souls need to be surrounded by their community and offered help – with no strings attached.
- The HARD HEART Doctor.
The Super Hero Doctor
As a country of people using the services of medical health professionals, we should hold “Super Hero Doctors” close in our hearts – because WE NEED these wonderful people! We also must remind our government and educating institutions that there has to be better ways to protect doctors before and after a tragic event. As well, they need proper resources so that they can easily come forward when they need help and support – without Stigma.
If we are lucky enough (as a patient) to have an empathetic doctor, we have a duty to tell them how much we appreciate their efforts. We need to remind them how extraordinary they are.
I have been in the presence of the rare Super Hero Doctor, the care is amazing, and I have told them so! They LOOK at you in the eye, and they have a genuine smile. When you are in pain, their face shows concern and sympathy. Similarly, when you have a health success they will share in your joy.
We want to protect these beautiful people so that they don’t become ill after taking care of us. We want to ensure that they don’t turn into a “Hard Heart Doctor” as a coping mechanism.
The Hard Heart Doctor.
Personally, I am tired of seeing “Hard Heart Doctors” and other “Hard Heart” medical health providers. Over the past few years I have seen many of these. In my experience, The “Hard Heart Doctor” looks at people like they are a product – and not even a product of interest.
These doctors either have blank or stern eyes. When they talk to patients they look at their clipboard or the wall. They never address tears that fall down a patients face because they either don’t see them – or they don’t want to see them. In contrast, there may be some part of their soul that still cares, but they have pushed it so far down – they just don’t remember how to authentically connect with patients any more.
These might be coping technique to shield a doctors from sadness and tragedies. However, the outcome is that patients are missing an authentic human experience with their health care provider.
As a personal example, I had a stream of “Hard Heart” health care providers after the birth of my son. For FOUR days I was screaming in pain, begging for help. I was either ignored, offered blankets, or told that I was tired and hormonal. Every doctor had a stone face, with blank eyes, and a monotone voice.
When I finally could leave, my husband drove me to a different hospital. As soon as we entered my situation was given importance. The Emergency doctor on duty looked me in the eyes, and had concern all over her face. After having a CT Scan, and an MRI they discovered a medical issue that was caused by the previous hospital. As soon as they corrected the error, and gave me a great deal of pain medication, I was on the road to recovery.
Help for Doctors and other Health Care Providers?
There are some prevention tactics in place to educate doctors on mental health issues. The idea is to reduce stigma, so that when doctors need help, they will be more inclined to ask for it. But, that is not enough. It’s not enough for anyone who faces tragedy every day.
Unfortunately, stigma still exists. Ideally, doctor’s should be able to come forward. However, the reality is that many feel that their colleagues and/or employers will judge them instead of offering support. As well, they also may be concerned that their patients may lose confidence in their abilities and see them as less capable. The consequence is that many health care providers will hide mental health issues, which results in doctors not getting the help that they need and deserve.
APATHY is NOT the answer!
We need to reduce mental health Stigma for “Super Hero” health care warriors. We need to protect these health care providers. We need to stand up and let them know that we support and applaud their efforts. Thank you to all of you!
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