Flagship hospital. Best care.
For whom? Patients.
Doctors serve patients … Doctors serve hospitals. Doctors serve self.
Hospital hierarchy. Doctor’s well-being. Hospital funds. Doctor’s family.
Patient care? Best care?
Which master is the master?
Depends on the day? Maybe the patient? Maybe the hospital?
All cannot win. Do not serve self. Best care.
This poem was written for an exercise that we completed as a class. The assignment involved writing a 55-word short story in 15 minutes. As I reflected on the clerkship year during the exercise, I thought of the often conflicting priorities that providers find themselves torn between and my personal struggles with burnout.
Talking about burnout is not something I enjoy. Discussions involving burnout are often associated with the perception of complaining, which makes discussing the topic with faculty members difficult. It is almost as if you are perceived as faulty or broken. Faculty try and empower students with phrases such as, “change the system” and “be the change you want to see.” However, when you reach out about burnout, you are then told, “this is the sacrifice you chose to make. We all had to do it. It is part of the profession,” or my personal favorite, “students before you have graduated and students after you will graduate.” With the highest suicide rate among the professions, when will we decide that the notion of self-sacrifice should not entail the sacrifice of mental stability and thus life?
Author’s note: The opinions and assertions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Uniformed Services University or the Department of Defense.