Doctor Wellbeing

Western medicine is the modern model of healthcare, but is it supporting our collective wellbeing?

The roots of medicine are ancient, going back to the time of Hippocrates and Plato and beyond, to a time when physicians were healers, scientists, philosophers and deeply religious people, who cared for the whole health and wellbeing of themselves and those they lived to serve.

Today’s evidence based medicine is ever-developing at a rate that is hard for us to keep up with, but is it working for us as individuals and as a collective whole?

Why are the rates of illness and disease rising?

Why are people getting sicker at earlier and earlier ages?

Why are we seeing a rise in lifestyle related diseases when we know what is causing them and therefore how to deal with them?

And why are so many practitioners being harmed in and by their practice of medicine?

Is the very evidence-based knowledge that we revere, something that we are applying to ourselves, when it comes to lifestyle-related diseases?

Evidence-based medicine on its own is clearly not enough, and there is more to the practise of true medicine, which is an art, as well as a science. For medicine to be healing, it needs to be practised with love and care, for our patients and for ourselves.

Current reports about the levels of depression, anxiety, burnout and exhaustion among doctors, and the heartbreaking stories of doctor suicides, have forced us as a profession to take an honest look at our own health and wellbeing.

We are not superhuman, but we try to live and work as if we are superheroes, and working and living like this takes its toll on ourselves, our loved ones and our patients. Perhaps it is time to accept that we are human, that we are imperfect, that we are affected by everything we see, feel and live, and to start treating ourselves as the precious, tender beings that we innately are.

This could be the beginning of us returning to live with a true quality of wellbeing where we wake up feeling vital, full of energy and enthusiasm for our work and for the day – instead of the suffering, distress, hardship, and physical and mental illness that many of us are now experiencing.

Imagine the joy, productivity and quality of care of a medical profession that lived in a way that developed that quality of true wellbeing. This is not idealistic – we felt this way as children and we can return to it again – and it is achievable by making simple changes in our lives.

To shift from the current medical culture of struggle, depletion and misery to one of joy, fullness and vitality requires that we make love and care the foundation of medicine – starting with ourselves – so that it is imbued into the culture of medicine from the moment we enter medical school and becomes the living way of our great profession.

Read more

Latest Articles on Doctor Wellbeing

Photo of Dr FIona Williams for article by Dr Fiona Williams on "Physician Heal Thyself"

Physician Heal Thyself: What Medical Training and the Body have taught me about Truth

While it would be nice to pretend otherwise, I did not embark on a career in medicine for altruistic reasons, to earn a good...
Photo of pink rose for article by 'A Doctor's' Wife'

Coronavirus and contagion: what are we passing on?

My husband works as a doctor in a hospital so I am frequently reminded of the constant demand health professionals are under. On a...
photo of Dr John Budin for article by Dr John Budin on Mental Health Stigma Amongst Doctors

The antidote to mental health stigma amongst doctors: humanity

Mental health stigma amongst doctors I grew up watching Superman. Impressive guy … leaping tall buildings and all that. Just the kinda thing a young...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on Dr William Lynes

The Healing Power of Self-Disclosure in Physicians

As part of my clinical research on lived experience in physicians, I recently interviewed a retired California urologist, William Lynes, MD. Although we’ve never...
photo of child for article on Loneliness by Dr Anne Malatt

Is there a cure for loneliness?

I recently read an article in the Lancet on loneliness (1). Loneliness is not new news, but the condition has now assumed the status...
Photo of reflection on water for article on by Dr Anne Malatt called Reflections on Christmas Day

Reflections on Christmas Day

It is the day after Christmas here in Australia and still Christmas Day elsewhere in the world. I love that I have friends in...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on Dr William Lynes

Harnessing Grief Into Action: A Tribute to a Remarkable Woman

Dr. Sangeeta Mahajan is a remarkable woman. She is a consultant anesthetist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, England. She...
Photo of green leafy vegetables for article on the purpose of food by Dr Anne Malatt

The purpose of food: to satisfy the senses or to nourish the whole body?

I recently read an article on the use of food as medicine in cancer patients … it was complicated and left me feeling confused,...
Photo of Anne Malatt in her blue Porsche for article by Dr Anne Malatt on Enriching Life

From being bored to enriching life

I work as an eye doctor and people sometimes ask me: Don’t you get bored with what you do? Well the answer is: No,...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on physician suicide awareness day

National Physician Suicide Awareness Day: We Refuse to Forget

September 17, 2019 was the second annual National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. As I wrote here last year, it is a day to commemorate...

World Mental Health Day – true health is for everyone, every day

It was recently (10/10) World Mental Health Day. This is a great initiative, and to be celebrated for raising our awareness of things that...
Photo of Dr Joe Kosterich

The Clock Is Ticking

In these days of evidence based practice where generally the prize goes to the best evidence money can buy, it is refreshing that occasionally...
photo of pink rose by Anne Malatt for article on True care - it starts with us by Dr Anne Malatt

True care – it starts with us

We are often taught in life that it is selfish to care for ourselves, and that we need to put the needs of others...
Xray of my big toe for article on Doctors' Health by Dr Anne Malatt

Doctors’ Health – attending to our own

I recently attended the national Australian Medical Association (AMA) conference, where the importance of doctors’ health was a major focus. Our current President, Dr Tony...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on physician suicide awareness day

The Magnitude of Lived Experience

This is a dispatch from Down Under. I’ve been here lecturing for the past couple of weeks on physician health and suicide prevention. On...
Photo of trees by Alan Johnson for article by Dr Anne Malatt on Breathe your own breath

Breathe your own breath

Breathe your own breath … what on earth does that mean? We breathe, in and out, all the time … but how aware are we...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on physician suicide awareness day

When the “S” Word Is Unspoken

Note: this is a highly disguised story for reasons that will be immediately obvious. I got an invitation a few months ago to give a...
photo of cow by Alan Johnston for article on post-traumatic stress by Dr Anne Malatt

Do doctors have post-traumatic stress from their training?

I woke early this morning, thinking about an article written by a young female surgeon (1) I had read recently, and I could not...
Photo of Dr Michael Myers for article by Dr Michael Myers on physician suicide awareness day

Courage in the Face of Heartbreaking Loss

After my plenary lecture at the International Practitioner Health Summit “The Wounded Healer” in London last October, I was invited to sit in on...
Photo of golden leaves by Katie Moum for article by Dr Jane Barker on To Medicine with Love

A knock on the door

30 years ago, a young doctor in overwhelm had planned to kill himself. He is now the President of a specialist College and wrote...

Trees as Teachers, Trees as Healers

We revere ancient trees, in awe of their size, their age, their beauty and the stories they may have told us if only they...

Shame and Imposter Syndrome – a Cause of Doctor Distress?

A high proportion of our doctors are distressed – are shame and Imposter Syndrome contributing? Shame has been identified as a risk factor for physician...

New Year’s Resolutions – Let your Heart Lead the Way

The practice of Medicine is always a balance between head and heart, science and art, medical care and compassion. Sometimes our decision making, both...

New Year’s Resolutions – let your body guide your way

Another year has rolled around and here we are again … reflecting on the year that was, and looking forward to the year that...

Simple tips for travelling light

Many of us travel at this time of the year, and whilst we love our holidays, we can find it stressful travelling to and...

And so this is Christmas

I love Christmas. I am sitting here looking at the palm frond we have decorated as our Australian Christmas tree. Looking down from the highest...

Ten top tips for actually enjoying Christmas

We are counting down the days to Christmas, many of us on overdrive, in overwhelm and exhaustion, made even worse by the ‘need’ to...

Sleep – our daily medicine

Sleep is something that many of us struggle with, and this struggle can affect our whole day, or sleep can be part of our...
photo of Dr Maxine Szramka

Do we really need our doctors to be resilient?

When we think of the word ‘resilience’ it conjures up certain meanings, i.e. that no matter what is thrown at you, you can ‘handle...
photo of Dr Anne Malatt by Clayton Lloyd for article on Being A Woman

The importance of having your own doctor – even when you are one

As doctors, we have a tendency to diagnose and treat ourselves when we become ill, which is understandable, but this can get us into...