Reprinted with permission from AUANews, volume 24, issue 10, 2019; © American Urological Association 2019.
WELL Now …
Let’s talk about …
Next Steps for Wellness
I am so excited to be writing my last article in this series for the AUA. Read on to understand my excitement.
For those of you wondering why an orthopaedic trauma surgeon has been writing a wellness column in AUANews, there are many pretty cool reasons. For one, I spent the early part of my career (more than 20 years ago) working with your outgoing Secretary, Dr. Monoj Monga, who invited me in 2016 to share some of my experiences and research with coaching and surgeon wellness. In addition to my growing skills as a coach, writer/blogger, podcaster and wellness advocate for physicians and our patients, I am also a successful surgeon who has worked with and managed the challenges of burnout and secondary posttraumatic stress. I am one of the thousands of success stories of surgeons effectively managing the physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual stress of being a surgeon. Few of us know how long we will be able to practice medicine or how our careers will evolve. Few of us know what life challenges our colleagues are experiencing.
When I started my training and career in medicine, we were talking about who could “cut it,” rather than about “burning out” and how many thousands of “cuts we will endure.” The knowledge, technology and experience of medicine are changing whether we want it to or not. Many of the changes are great and long overdue. Some, not so much. Each of us is seeking something personal, and yet most of us are encouraged by similar themes of joy, fulfillment, meaning and many of the other things that fall into the “pot of wellness.”
What Progress Have We Made?
We are making steady progress in our awareness of the issues surrounding health care professional wellness. Awareness is the first step to affect meaningful change. I would like to thank Manoj and the AUA for recognizing the importance of the subject early and for providing me with the opportunity to share my experience in this arena. The AUA has talked about wellness and backed it up with meaningful steps like forming a workgroup, conducting regular surveys, and increasing research and publications on how to better address member wellness needs.
There is no doubt the AUA will continue to take meaningful steps forward, especially as it pertains to education, research and advocacy. While there are factors unique to each specialty, the strategies across medical and especially surgical specialties impacting wellness have far more in common than not. Thus, I encourage cross-collaboration across surgical specialties.
Many of us have been following the growing discussion in medicine about burnout, joy in practice and wellness. In my view many of the strategies can be effective. The most significant and sustainable management will be organizational, and our professional organizations, such as the AUA, will be vital in supporting these important cultural changes.
What are Your Next Steps for Wellness?
Share, Discuss and Learn about Wellness. You have the opportunity to do this individually or collectively, locally or nationally, synchronously or asynchronously, in your journals, meetings and online communications. Keep the conversations going with me and like-minded surgeons at SurgeonMasters.com/urology.
Research and Monitor Professional Satisfaction and Burnout. What if you monitor your own personal wellness, burnout or growth? It could be randomized and controlled, trial and error or something in between. If we aren’t paying attention to what is actually effective, we can’t progress.
Modify and Grow Your Wellness Plans. Growth will only come from action and change. You must put your plans into action. The most effective plans involve incremental change and deliberate practice.
There are so many of us who are passionate about this issue. If you are one of them, step up to the podium, stand up to share your perspectives and ideas by writing something yourself, and support your colleagues. The interest in well-being and wellness continues to grow. Continue to participate with me at SurgeonMasters. com/urology. I will remain passionate about surgeon wellness. I have greatly appreciated this experience with all of my fellow surgeons.
Stay in touch. Remember, if you want to experience wellness, you need to practice wellness. Stay Well!