Things they didn’t teach in medical school: Part 9a Self-management

So the RACP (Royal Australasian College of Physicians) has self-management as part of its’ Professional Qualities Curriculum. Well this wasn’t taught at medical school and it isn’t being taught or assessed by the college. Nor is it getting assessed for CPD/CME points.

Self-management includes stress management. This includes addressing work-life-balance.

My first comment is that the notion of ‘addressing work-life-balance’ is more likely-than-not written buy a bunch of middle-aged to elderly white males who have little concept of what outsiders to consider to be work-life balance. This is a homily. If somebody is happy working – let them do it. It is their source of balance.

But seriously. I’ve never really had a proper discussion with one of my trainees about stress management. At least in a serious sense. We’ve discussed ‘debriefing’ with one’s partner or colleagues but stress management can go beyond this.

Several lines of research are suggesting but haven’t definitively proven the role of mindfulness for managing patient symptoms and stress. This work might also provide guidance for physicians for managing stress.

Currently I’m testing the Headspace app for iPhone. In the old parlance this is meditation but mindfulness is a more approachable term for us folk who aren’t into alternative medicine. Interestingly I think I couldn’t have done this 5 or 10 years ago but now it is sitting nicely.

I don’t know if mindfulness training is going to improve my overall well-being but it seems mostly harmless and it is teachable to junior doctors who are having to deal with different stressors to me. There are flow on effects – if your doctor is better rested then he/she might manage your case better. If your doctor understands mindfulness-based therapy then he/she might recommend this app.

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