As important as taking care of patients is right now for physicians, it is just as important for physicians to make their well-being a top priority. Why? Because physicians are living in unprecedented times of stress, uncertainty, vulnerability, and mortality as they care for patients during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Taking care of patients in high acuity settings takes a toll on the person in the scrubs, white coat, and stethoscope. I experienced this first hand during my career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The stress and overwhelm goes beyond the care of extremely critical preterm neonates born on the cusp of viability. It was compounded by the way I processed the experience.
For the first decade of my career I lived on one side of what I called what if things go wrong. On this side stress levels were high. Way too much time was spent worrying about what might go wrong when the pager went off. With every beep of the pager I had a visceral reaction.
On way to the Delivery Room, I’d review resuscitation procedures, dosages for epinephrine, the equipment needed for umbilical catheter insertion. It was all rehearsed in my head.
Preparation is essential. Holding the energy of negative anticipation is self-destructive. It robs your joy.
There was that moment in the delivery room when I realized that the parents were waiting to hear their baby cry. The OB expected to see a baby wiggling around and crying. And the nurses, preparing the footprint sheets, were expecting the newborn to cry.
Wait. Was I the only one in negative anticipation that the neonate would not cry?
In that moment I made a different decision. It was the decision to find peace. On the cusp of life and death, I chose life. And that is the way I spent the 2nd decade of my medical career.
In the face of the Coronavirus pandemic physicians have a choice. Do you live in what if’s? Or do you choose life?
On the what if side you:
- Often reside there so long that you fail to recognize you are living in negative anticipation.
- Seldom see the possibilities and opportunities for your life and career until you get to the other side.
We don’t know how long this coronavirus pandemic will last. A new normal will emerge from it. What it will look like is uncertain as well.
When you live in what if you protect yourself. When you choose life you provide for yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
That’s when you breathe again and life flows.
As you move through this journey with the coronavirus:
- What new ways of being can be stimulated and brought to life?
- What habits and new ways of thinking do you need to sustain life?
- What do you need to release so that you create space to begin anew?
It’s a mistaken belief that well-being is about everything going your way. It is about how you choose to process the experience in a way that supports you.
Well-being starts by the firm understanding that you exactly as you are in this moment MATTER. It is coupled with the understanding that you DESERVE to have peace and well-being as you work in high acuity settings. It is shaped with FAITH as you release the struggle.
Click below to learn the 3 Steps To Restore Your Peace
About Dr. Stephanie
Dr. Stephanie Wellington is a physician, international speaker, coach, and founder of Nurturing MDs where she helps physicians infuse new energy into the practical steps of building a life and medical career so they own their value, recognize their strengths, balance their life. She trained at New York University in Pediatrics and Neonatal Medicine and continues to live in New York with her 2 children. Get access to Define It To Find It: 5 Pillars For Physician Well-being at www.NurturingMDs.com.