Dr Sam Hazledine's Presentation to the World Medical Association

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The Data

An American study of over 2,000 physicians demonstrated that 87% of doctors are stressed beyond levels that are productive. A study of over 12,000 doctors found that only 6% described their morale as positive.

A recent study in New Zealand showed that over 50% of doctors are right now experiencing symptoms of burnout and over half would not choose medicine as a career again.

Our profession is in a crisis. A crisis we hide behind a professional facade.

But that’s not even the worst of it. 

Studies show that stress in doctors causes depersonalization, emotional disconnection with our patients, and depersonalization leads to increases in major medical errors.

Despite ‘first, do no harm’ underpinning who we are as doctors, the way we are being as doctors is harming our patients. 

 

My research 

But, if 87% of doctors are stressed, then 13% aren’t. In 2013 I began researching the doctors who are thriving. I was driven by the question:

“If some doctors are thriving, are they doing things differently that cause them to thrive, and can any doctor do these things?” 

To answer this, I looked for commonalities in practices, not personality, amongst the doctors who are thriving, and looked to see if these things were as likely or less likely to be present in the doctors who are struggling. 

What I found was profound. There are eight core patterns of behaviour that are significantly more likely to be practiced amongst the doctors who are thriving, and significantly less likely to be practiced in the doctors who are struggling. 

One underlying thing that drove these patterns of behaviour is that the doctors who are thriving prioritise their well-being, not just their health. Rather than seeing it as putting themselves first, they see it as looking after themselves so that they can deliver the best standard of care to their patients. 

 

A new paradigm 

Before 1954 it was believed that it was impossible for the human body to run a four-minute mile. Doctors actually proclaimed that the human body was not capable of this feat, and that the heart could not handle it. 

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister, Dr Roger Bannister, ran the mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. 

He didn’t buy in to the belief that it was impossible, he went first, he showed what was possible.  

After he did it, just 46 days later, John Landy ran a mile in under four minutes, and the following year 16 people achieved the feat. Nowadays, high school kids are running the mile in under four minutes. 

It took one person, a doctor, to go first, to not buy in to the paradigm of the day, to create a new paradigm of what is possible. 

As doctors, our patients do come first, they are our highest priority, they must be. But as a profession we are operating in an outdated paradigm that is letting our patients down: 

I sacrifice myself because my patients come first. 

My research is conclusive; this is harming, even killing, our patients. 

We need to introduce a new paradigm, one that serves both our patients and our profession: 

I take care of my well-being because my patients come first. 

 

Declaration of Geneva 

I propose, with the support of over 4,500 doctors, that in the spirit of this we introduce into the Declaration of Geneva: 

 

I WILL TAKE CARE of my health and well-being so I can provide care of the highest standard 

 

Why these words specifically? 

  • I WILL TAKE CARE – This implies a prioritization of our actionsnot just an outcome. Ensuring implies the outcome, which is not necessarily achievable and we need to make this achievable or it becomes just words 

  • Health and well-being – this includes physical health and also goes beyond it to include mental and emotional health which are critical to providing the best careit also ties to the expanded version for the patients 

  • So I can provide care of the highest standard – this speaks to the unequivocal link between physician well-being and the ability to provide the highest standard of care 

 

We have the chance here to so something special, something that will change the paradigm of our profession in a positive way, not to deprioritize our patients, but to do one of the most important things to care for our patients. 

It takes someone to go first, to show what’s possible, let’s be those people.  

Let’s honour our profession, let’s honour our patients, and let’s make this change. 

 

14680611_784546521649006_8388611953449327695_n.jpg

 

The Data

An American study of over 2,000 physicians demonstrated that 87% of doctors are stressed beyond levels that are productive. A study of over 12,000 doctors found that only 6% described their morale as positive.

A recent study in New Zealand showed that over 50% of doctors are right now experiencing symptoms of burnout and over half would not choose medicine as a career again.

Our profession is in a crisis. A crisis we hide behind a professional facade.

But that’s not even the worst of it. 

Studies show that stress in doctors causes depersonalization, emotional disconnection with our patients, and depersonalization leads to increases in major medical errors.

Despite ‘first, do no harm’ underpinning who we are as doctors, the way we are being as doctors is harming our patients. 

 

My research 

But, if 87% of doctors are stressed, then 13% aren’t. In 2013 I began researching the doctors who are thriving. I was driven by the question:

“If some doctors are thriving, are they doing things differently that cause them to thrive, and can any doctor do these things?” 

To answer this, I looked for commonalities in practices, not personality, amongst the doctors who are thriving, and looked to see if these things were as likely or less likely to be present in the doctors who are struggling. 

What I found was profound. There are eight core patterns of behaviour that are significantly more likely to be practiced amongst the doctors who are thriving, and significantly less likely to be practiced in the doctors who are struggling. 

One underlying thing that drove these patterns of behaviour is that the doctors who are thriving prioritise their well-being, not just their health. Rather than seeing it as putting themselves first, they see it as looking after themselves so that they can deliver the best standard of care to their patients. 

 

A new paradigm 

Before 1954 it was believed that it was impossible for the human body to run a four-minute mile. Doctors actually proclaimed that the human body was not capable of this feat, and that the heart could not handle it. 

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister, Dr Roger Bannister, ran the mile in 3 minutes and 59 seconds. 

He didn’t buy in to the belief that it was impossible, he went first, he showed what was possible.  

After he did it, just 46 days later, John Landy ran a mile in under four minutes, and the following year 16 people achieved the feat. Nowadays, high school kids are running the mile in under four minutes. 

It took one person, a doctor, to go first, to not buy in to the paradigm of the day, to create a new paradigm of what is possible. 

As doctors, our patients do come first, they are our highest priority, they must be. But as a profession we are operating in an outdated paradigm that is letting our patients down: 

I sacrifice myself because my patients come first. 

My research is conclusive; this is harming, even killing, our patients. 

We need to introduce a new paradigm, one that serves both our patients and our profession: 

I take care of my well-being because my patients come first. 

 

Declaration of Geneva 

I propose, with the support of over 4,500 doctors, that in the spirit of this we introduce into the Declaration of Geneva: 

 

I WILL TAKE CARE of my health and well-being so I can provide care of the highest standard 

 

Why these words specifically? 

  • I WILL TAKE CARE – This implies a prioritization of our actionsnot just an outcome. Ensuring implies the outcome, which is not necessarily achievable and we need to make this achievable or it becomes just words 

  • Health and well-being – this includes physical health and also goes beyond it to include mental and emotional health which are critical to providing the best careit also ties to the expanded version for the patients 

  • So I can provide care of the highest standard – this speaks to the unequivocal link between physician well-being and the ability to provide the highest standard of care 

 

We have the chance here to so something special, something that will change the paradigm of our profession in a positive way, not to deprioritize our patients, but to do one of the most important things to care for our patients. 

It takes someone to go first, to show what’s possible, let’s be those people.  

Let’s honour our profession, let’s honour our patients, and let’s make this change. 

 

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