WHY REFLECT? (SUPPLEMENT FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS)
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates
With the growth of a team approach to medicine, professionals such as nurse practitioners, nurse navigators, nurses, physician assistants, social workers, and health psychologists are filling increasingly large and varied roles in health care. Among other things, they’re likely to be responsible for assessing and responding to a patient’s emotional state, living situation, social connectedness, and need for support services. In so doing, they may experience compassion fatigue as their own inner resources are overwhelmed by the needs of others. They may feel drained or robotic, or simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work.
When problems like those are exacerbated by understaffing, burdensome record-keeping, lack of resources, and other manifestations of profit-driven corporate medicine, attending to one’s own emotional health may seem like an inadequate response.
But suppose that all system-driven problems were miraculously resolved, and medical facilities provided plenty of time for each patient, generous resources, and good working conditions. Even then, health care professionals would not only see tragedy, heartbreak, and loss on a daily basis, but would also feel a responsibility to try to help patients through those conditions.They’d still have to deal with people engaging in unreasonable, selfish, and self-destructive behaviors, as well as with their own self-doubt, grief, and guilt when interventions don’t go as planned.
It is at that level that there’s benefit in the reflective writing, thoughtful reading, and storytelling resources that this website offers. True, such activities may be good options to recommend to patients. But just as airline passengers are advised to put on their own oxygen masks before trying to help others, they’re also lifelines for health care professionals themselves.
The menu at the right lists sections on reflective writing, thoughtful reading of literature, and storytelling, including sections on storytelling for physicians and health professionals. Each of these sections includes an introduction and links to podcasts, videos, readings, websites, and other material. The blog section includes posts with additional information on related topics. If you click the Subscribe button at the bottom right of the screen and provide your email address, you’ll be notified when new material is posted to the blog.
During this time of dealing with COVID-19, when pressures are even higher than usual, this website is meant to provide whatever help is possible in dealing with inner stress. Please feel free to use the Comments form if you have suggestions for additional material that may be useful.