May 1, 2024

Finding joy again in medical practice

By Dr. Gbenga Adebayo
Physician Advocate, Workplace Wellbeing
Saskatchewan Medical Association

As May 1 marks another National Physicians Day, I would like to reflect on how we can reignite the lights in our hearts for this noble profession of medicine. Physicians have stood at the forefront of our health care system with their unwavering dedication, compassion, and perseverance. After the unprecedented challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, you, our physicians, have remained strong. Today we celebrate your resilience.

The pandemic challenged even the most seasoned practitioners. Yet, physicians — in leadership and clinical positions — rose to the occasion, demonstrating remarkable grit and resolve, and helping our society return to normalcy. Post-pandemic, the demands placed on health care professionals have been enormous. From catching up and managing overwhelming case loads to navigating rapidly evolving treatment protocols, physicians continue to shoulder immense health care burdens.

As we reflect on the journey thus far, it becomes evident that we have a profound opportunity to rediscover joy in medical practice. Moments of connection with patients, small victories and shared triumphs, and camaraderie with colleagues are the true essence of joy. By embracing the humanity inherent in medical practice, we, as physicians, can reclaim the purpose and fulfilment that sustains us through the darkest of times.

In the hustle and bustle of our demanding profession, losing sight of the passion we had for medicine is easy. Long work hours, administrative burdens, and the emotional toll of patient care can weigh heavily on our spirits, leaving us feeling drained and disillusioned. However, amid these challenges and complexities of modern medicine, we remind ourselves of the impact we have on the lives of our patients.

The opportunity to protect health, alleviate suffering, and comfort those in distress should evoke inner peace and gratefulness. In our ongoing interactions with our patients (and their families), we can embrace the humanity of medicine, rekindling the joy that comes from making meaningful connections with others who look to us for help. It’s essential to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the privilege of practicing medicine. It’s important to celebrate those small victories.

Let’s take a moment each day to reflect on the blessings and opportunities given to us as physicians. By focusing on the positive aspects of our profession, we can shift our perspective and find joy in even the most challenging situations.

The importance of collegiality and comradeship cannot be overstated, especially in times of distress. Navigating the ups and downs of medical practice alone can be overwhelming. We need to support and be kind to one another. We need to seek support from colleagues, mentors, and peers. The bonds we form enable physicians — individuals and groups — to overcome times of uncertainty and adversity. Whether it’s sharing experiences, offering a listening ear, or simply lending a helping hand, connections with our colleagues give us strength and solidarity.

As we look toward the future with hope and optimism, I congratulate all physicians for their dedication, compassion, and inspiration. Your tireless efforts have not gone unnoticed. I believe our patients and society are grateful for that.

We can create a health care system that fosters the well-being of patients and physicians through deep reflection, collegiality, and a steadfast commitment to healing. Together, we can forge a path forward filled with hope and the enduring spirit of resilience.

Happy National Physicians Day!

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