18 Feb 30 Second Dance Party
Worrisome thoughts seem to come in convenient packages.
Just this week, I sat in DLEPP lectures about public disclosure and learnt about the benefits and consequences of whistleblowing when patient safety is at stake (FYI there seem to be an overwhelming amount of consequences!). I watched videos of patients being physically, and emotionally mutilated with little to no compensation for their pain. I physically cringed after watching a woman explain surgical nightmares inflicted on her to fulfil a surgeon’s disgusting and perverted . I have shed many tears over my morning coffee while reading an article of an accomplished and hardworking surgeon losing her spirit due to a toxic culture that seems to fester in . It pains me deeply that such rich talent and motivation has been reduced to painful burn-out by forces outside an individual’s control.
Even as a preclinical student, at times I find myself terrified of what looms ahead. The warm and comforting hand of support from my medical school will only fully last for another 11 months until I am ‘set free’ into the healthcare system. The comm skills classroom will extend to countless departments with consultants and registrars who will be my future teachers and mentors. Additionally, it also seems as though despite the best efforts of many people, there will still be bad apples in the future workplace. People who seem to forget that we are all branches of the same tree trying to provide the best medical care possible to people. I am aware that these are only a couple of examples of professional misconduct, and are probably not representative of the entirety of the medical workforce, however, I can’t help but wonder how many similar cases have been silenced or never made it to the point of public knowledge. I wonder how many spirits have been broken by this system.
How I myself can have faith in a system to train me as a competent, skilled, compassionate, and kind doctor while all these holes exist in the road? How do you tackle a cultural problem as just one seemingly ineffectual medical student? Everything seems to be scary and crappy and out of my control.
I had a chat- and a cry- to my mum on the phone about this. Mum listened and listened to my rant, and at the end I asked her “What am I supposed to do?”
After a lot of arguing and back and forth, I am finally convinced of some ideas.
Mum said that there are, in fact, things in my control, which seemed grossly incorrect but hear me out. Instead of a written record of our 3-hour conversation, I have condensed everything to 6 dot points for the #highyieldlife. Hearing the things below gave me a bit of confidence, and I hope it does the same to you. (Plus, my mum’s knowledge has been trialled and tested for 22 years so can confirm v v high yield).
The things that ARE in your control are…
- You are studying and practicing your skills to one day better the life of someone who will instil trust in you. Take pride in this fact and respect yourself for it
- Aim to spread kindness in all that you do. This means respecting the person in front of you as if they were one of your own. Show kindness to the people that seem to have lost their way, no matter the place they hold in the world. You attract what you put out!
- Cultivate a swell set of friends. They will defend the silver lining when you can’t see it and offer you a hug or a cup of tea on a crappy day.
- Accept that fear sucks but being scared is okay. It is how you deal with that fear that determines everything. Mulan was hella scared when she was fighting Shan-Yu on the roof of the emperor’s palace. But she accepted it, and did the best she could, and got the emperor’s necklace and restored honour to all Imperial China AND her family AND found love with Captain Shang.
- Accept that everything won’t go the way you think it should. You can’t control everything. And that’s ok, and that is life. Being okay with that uncertainty is what will make you stronger and will see you through the shadowy days.
- 30 second dance party. This is the best stress relief- guaranteed 100%. Probably approved by The Lancet, Cell, Nature…
Doing these things is not easy- especially on days when you are feeling crap, when its hard to even get up, let alone dance, and it’s difficult even talking to another human being because you are so exhausted. Mum says it takes a lot of practice. But the rewards are boundless. I am still angry and concerned at what is happening. These six little things seem very little, but I feel that they are a good foundation to start with and begin practising to look after myself and the people around me.
I don’t know what will happen if all the dot points fail, but the way I see it, at least I have been true to myself and done the best I possibly could with the help of those I love, and those who love me.
I trust that the heart of life is good.
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