Doctors need doctors too. We can’t, and shouldn’t, be our own doctors. Frequent moves around the country and long hours can be a barrier to finding your own GP. Try looking at www.healthpoint.co.nz to find a local clinic that is taking on new patients and is open at a convenient time. At work you can look after your physical health and save sleepless nights by reporting needle-stick injuries honestly.
Sleep is vitally important to how we function at work. Studies have shown that fatigue can affect you in a similar way to intoxication from alcohol.
Having a sleep routine, writing down any worries or a ‘to-do’ list before bed, and avoiding your phone/tablet before sleep, are some ways to ensure quality sleep. Put simply, sleep should be at the top of your priority list.
Exercise isn’t just good for our physical health, it has a big impact on our mental health too. Fitting it in can be tough, but remember that something is better than nothing. Exercising with a friend is a great way to stay on track. Seek out opportunities for incidental exercise like taking the stairs, not the lift. Most importantly, do exercise you enjoy, so you’ll keep on doing it!
What you eat has a huge impact on how you feel. Where possible, make healthier choices and choose whole foods over processed. Plan in advance. Cook meals in bulk to freeze, and stock up on healthy snacks to take to work so you aren’t tempted to hit the vending machine at 2am. Drink water, often. And try to limit your coffee/energy drink intake—we realise this one might be a challenge!
Our social relationships are one of the main protections we have from compassion fatigue and burnout. Make sure you have time and energy for your family and friends, even if it’s just over the phone or Skype. Maintain your non-medical friendships, we all need a break from ‘talking shop’!
Medicine can be all-consuming. Having a hobby or interest that you enjoy can help you to switch your focus, relax and revive. When it comes to hobbies and interests, it doesn’t have to be something that you are good at—that you like it and continue to do it on a regular basis is the main thing!
It’s not always possible to take a long break, but even taking 5 minutes to walk outside to get some sunshine and fresh air can make a difference to how you feel.
It is a good idea to find a mentor early on in your career, and in fact you may be required to do this as part of your training (BPAC). It is helpful to have a senior colleague (doesn't have to be a consultant) to meet with regularly and give you professional guidance. You need to be proactive with this; a mentor won't be given to you.