Taking care of our own

The afternoon of day 3 left many of us in tears as we went through our stories of first deaths and tragic patient outcomes. It was clear as these stories came out that many of us were still hanging on to these painful memories and will probably do so for the remainder of our careers. Another common thread in these stories was the lack of support after these unforgettable events happened. In healthcare, we are expected to take a deep breath and move on with our days as if nothing ever happened. Take another history, make another diagnosis, speak to another family, all while making sure we check our emotions at the door.

Having care for the care giver is so laking at many of our home institutions. Sometimes all we need is to sit with someone for more than just a few minutes and talk about the emotional battlefield that is our profession. With the number of physician and nurse suicides on the rose, this is more pressing than ever. Feeling alone after a tragedy, feeling like it was your fault and that you could have done something better, feeling like maybe you should never have become a doctor or a nurse are crippling thoughts that run through all of our minds after a bad outcome.

The Care for the Caregiver program was inspiring to hear about and I look forward to bringing back the idea to my home institution. It also reminded me that its not just the doctors, nurses and PAs that need support, it is also the environmental workers, techs, transporters and security guards that are right there on the front lines with us and make it possible for us to function everyday. Just acknowledging and including them in our daily routines can change their lives.