Tuesday, March 8, 2011

self lovin'... no not that kind

A word about self-care in medicine.... it's more than important, it's a crucial skill that they touched on for about thirty seconds of your last lecture you never attended before the final exam which you probably skipped for a pre-exam nerve calming margarita (or at least that was the plan when I was in school at a fancy shmancy institution in the warmer nether regions of the state).

the first lecture any medical provider is given should be entitled : SELF CARE; "take care of yourself, if you don't.... you will burn out and won't be able to heal the masses... let alone yourself."

ways to make this a reality?

EAT YOUR GREENS; eat well (what you eat becomes your body... is there a better reason?), bring snacks to the clinic, the kind that are high in protein and fiber, and keep a water bottle full and in reach. Watch out for caffeine (my arch nemesis, prior lover and the crack of life... yeah, we have a volitile relationship) and sugar (no siesta time available in exam room five at 2 pm) and the starchy processed junk food that drug reps and staff spread around the clinic in your most stressful and mindless moments.

WORK THAT ASS- exercise (endorphins are like legal speed... and should be fully enjoyed), plus, everyone likes to be fit and look their best. Even little bits of exercise add up to something... for example, my favorite; taking the stairs up to medical records (you will inevitably avoid facing a patient in the awkwardness of the elevator as they attempt to catch your eye and ask a question about a visit you no longer remember in any way)

 FLUORESCENT LIGHTING ISN'T JUST BAD FOR BATHING SUIT SHOPPING- get some air and sunlight ever day; take a walk during lunch, make friends with a local barrista, library or coffee shop (one of my most favorite NPs of all time used to take a walk around a mostly Mexican migrant farming town with during lunch by herself, she admitted to me one day that she like to "pretend she was out of the country" ... which I think is pure genius, and have repeated myself too many times to count. Tomorrow, I will be going to.... hmmmmm..... details pending).

TURN AND BURN- when you leave the clinic, as much as possible, LEAVE it there (it will still be there in the morning) ... this means physically, mentally, emotionally... leave it... it won't walk away. And, save your family ALL the gory details... they only THINK they want to hear them all. This is why we all need a colleague to have a drink with after work as needed (especially you women's health folks... been there.. and the conversation is less than delicious at the dinner table).
         Caveat here; huge appreciation to my friends and current partner who are always there to let me spout medical gobbeldygook after an emotional day... regardless of how much they may care about the details, a support network of people who love you is key to being a complete clinician.. and in this arena, I am blessed fully.

VOCATION vs. VACATION; ok... yes, you are an NP, a nurse, a podiatrist.. whatever. Yes, there is such a thing as identifying with a vocation.. but, it's important not to lose yourself. Limit the time you spend reading articles if you are tempted to spend every waking second on up to date at night in bed, next to your snoring partner, face illuminated by the laptop (you know you've been there, just looking up one more cause of end stage kidney disease or one more "derm quiz")... stay up on the facts, but don't overdo it... admin time at work exists for a reason, as do copious to do/to learn/to experience lists....  Take trips and vacations frequently, especially if you are lucky enough to live in a place where you can head to beach, snow, dessert, mountains, or redwood forests within a 5 hour drive (do it).

Want to heal others? keep yourself in tip top shape... not just the cerebral type... your life, and loved ones, and ultimately... patients... will be all the better for it.

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