WHY REFLECT? (SUPPLEMENT FOR PHYSICIANS)
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” — Socrates
Imagine, if you will, an ideal world of medical practice with plenty of time for each patient, generous staffing, reasonable hours, no burdensome record-keeping, no struggles with insurance companies, and even amenities like easily available healthy food. It’s a world in which any systemic problem that contributes to physician stress would have been solved.
But even in that world, medicine would be personally and emotionally demanding. The day would still come when you’d have to declare a baby dead and face the grief of the parents. You’d still have to walk away from that family to see your next patient, who might have a minor ailment and a bad attitude. Some patients would still have unreasonable expectations or be unable or unwilling to follow a treatment plan. Most likely, no matter how good a physician you are, you’d sometimes make mistakes and have to cope with guilt, shame, and regret. None of that represents shortcomings in the practice of medicine that can and should be remedied. It is the practice of medicine.
It is at that level that there’s benefit in the resources this website offers for developing habits of self-awareness and empathy that go to the heart of what medicine is, and why many doctors chose that profession in the first place. Beyond that, living a reflective life enhances not only professional practice, but also the individual, social, and community experiences that make up ordinary life.
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.