WACEP President's Message, May 2019
Jeffrey Pothof, MD, FACEP
We as emergency physicians have chosen a demanding career. Not only do we work days, nights, weekends and holidays, we also play witness to some of the best, and often the worst experiences people and families go through. Being the ever-present patient advocate can also be an exhausting activity, almost daily having to think outside the box to get patients what they need in a system and society that at times just seems broken. At the same time the ratio of value-added to non-value-added work seems to be going in the wrong direction. It’s no surprise that in a recent Medscape survey 48 percent of us reported burnout.
Lately there has been more attention to this issue. Many have been exploring the “why” and others have been offering suggestions on “what” to do about it. I’m no expert in wellness and I can’t really tell you how much you should exercise or how you’ll find the time to sleep a little more. Everyone is a bit different when it comes to connecting with other people and many of us have different ideas of how what we do is part of something bigger than any one of us. I sometimes struggle to use my electronic health record, so I don’t think I’d be the right one to show you how to use yours.
As I reflect on all the headlines, reports, and studies on wellness among physicians and especially emergency physicians, my first reaction is one of appreciation. Despite all the reasons you see, hear, and experience you still don your scrubs, throw on the white coat, and head in to the department. I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you for being such dedicated professionals and standup individuals. Hats off to you emergency physicians. Although it sometimes doesn’t feel like it amidst all the distractions, all of you are making a difference in the lives of others however big or small.
For those of you who may not be finding the meaning you need in a demanding career such as emergency medicine, I encourage you to take action. You are far to valuable to your patients but also to your family and friends. We need you. All of us at WACEP are here to support you and there are many resources available to find what works best for you. ACEP has a dedicated site and section that I encourage you to check out at https://www.acep.org/life-as-a-physician/wellness/.