Physician, Heal Thyself

Premier Pulse     January 2019

Belcastro_350x350By Marc Belcastro, DO, chief medical officer, Premier Health Southern Region

“Physician, heal thyself” (Latin: Medice, cura te ipsum) is a proverb used in literary texts from at least the 6th century B.C. The moral of the proverb is that physicians should care for themselves in order to better care for the illnesses of others. Over the past couple of years, I have written about caring for our patients in a deeper and more compassionate way. For 2019, my “passion for compassion” will continue. If physicians are not only to survive but also flourish in our current health care world, then our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being must be strengthened and maintained.

Much has been written about physician engagement and burnout, and the literature features a multitude of strategies. I will focus on a single strategy, one that leading experts recognize as a candidate for being the most effective. This approach takes some effort and participation by physicians, and involves coming together in small, medium, or large groups over a common interest or topic. I have no doubt that many physicians in our system have interest or expertise in various disciplines, such as exercise and nutrition, discipline development, breathing and meditation, emotional intelligence and awareness, spiritual or religious studies, women in medicine, and diversity. Another type of wellness is nurtured when individuals facing similar challenges meet to discuss specific issues and support one another. Examples of the demands facing physicians include sleep deprivation, being on call, dealing with life and death, EMR, lack of control, relentless critical decisions, isolation, malpractice, and poor health.

My vision is to facilitate the development of these various groups of physicians throughout our system: north, central, and south. Meeting sites could be the hospitals, physician homes, restaurants, or coffee shops. The frequency of the meetings would be determined by each group and could vary from weekly to monthly or quarterly. I will be sharing this model with various physician groups over the next few months, and I am willing to launch one or more of these meetings with your help. If you have any interest or ideas and would like to participate, please email or call me with your thoughts. If you have a particular skill set and would be willing to lead a group, please contact me. Your base hospital does not matter. What does matter is that you are not just interested but committed. We can all be part of our journey to wholeness and healing. Please come alongside me. I am reachable by email or at (937) 974-9314(937) 974-9314.

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