Medical Burnout - A National Crisis

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Transcript of Video Remarks

"Before we go into cases I have one other item I want to discuss and it's actually an article that was in our local paper The Times on Sunday. It's a story about a Jersey Shore nurse who basically had such a traumatic experience caring for COVID patients that she's decided that she's leaving nursing and it's  so incredibly common right now. I mean the statistics in this article are interesting and sobering. A hundred thousand nurses left nursing in the last year.  90% of nurses are considering leaving their career throughout the United States and they project something like a twenty percent or thirty percent deficit of nurses by 2030.

What's happening obviously..., first of all the strain of the COVID pandemic forced a lot of people to have horrific experiences caring for people, having inadequate resources to protect themselves and inadequate medicines and treatments to help patients. They saw a lot of a lot of needless suffering and they're traumatized by it. Even before the COVID pandemic nursing really has been under a lot of strain as all areas of medicine have. They're understaffed,  their nursing to patient ratios continue to go up, and it's very, very challenging. It's a challenging profession.

You know a good argument could be made that it's broken and there are a lot of nurses that are saying nursing is broken, as there are many doctors who are saying medicine is broken and they're choosing to go into administration..., they're choosing to become entrepreneurs..., and they're choosing to just step away, disengage from medicine. I think that's really wrong-minded.  I think it's not a good way to go. I'm not saying that you don't need to get help when you have experienced traumatic experiences. I think anybody who cared for COVID patients and was involved in caring for patients during this pandemic needs to be talking to some friends, to close people they trust, to mental health professionals and working through it but in my opinion it's a bad decision to step away from medicine.

I think it's most importantly time to lean into medicine because that's where you're going to find your purpose again. That's why why you chose medicine. That's why you chose nursing..., to be caring for people. It's the humanistic part of nursing that is going to pull you through this crisis..., that's going to actually help you find ways to be a better nurse and to help others through harrowing experiences. That's how I found my purpose again in medicine..., through my book. I basically worked and thought about all these experiences that I had..., some of which were senseless. They seemed senseless to me and I made sense out of them.  You can make sense out of them, and really if your purpose is to serve, and that's what I think most everybody on this meeting today is...,  and the people out there who chose nursing as a profession.

Your purpose is to serve. You've got to lean into it and you've got to heal your wounds with discussions, but you also have to stick to clinical medicine. That's where the gold is. That's where you get your meaning, when you help somebody. When you take the terrible knowledge that you've had. We all have terrible knowledge. I talk about this again in my book. It's knowledge that the world can be crushing. The truth of the matter can be horrific and so when you walk around the streets (and so many people are walking around in naivete not really imagining how terrible the world and life can be) but going on and actually using your experiences to help others through it.

And that's really an important part of the healing process and so disengaging, I think that maybe in the short run that may help some people and make them feel good, but I don't think in the long run they're going to solve the dilemmas that they're struggling with. You're all going to experience some type of burnout in medical school or while you're training.

There's all kinds of fancy definitions for burnout but the bottom line is burnout is when you stop loving what you do...,  when you start feeling that you need to really think hard about why you did it and and and where you get your your energy where you get your your life and purpose. That's in serving people and that's why you chose it and that's that's why I chose it so I i want any everybody to be aware of burnout.

Iit happens but don't let it get the best of you and ask yourself some deep questions about why you went into it..., what you love doing and if you need help and you want to talk to...,  talk to me, or talk to somebody else who seems to have a balance of the hard parts, the challenging parts of medicine, and also the beauty of it.

So that's my message to everybody today. Be aware of it, talk to people about it, don't disengage..., it's when you need to lean in the most."

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