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  • Overcoming challenges of facing death and emotional pain as a doctor.

  • Erina M

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    March 23, 2021 at 9:13 pm
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    -US statistics say doctors have the highest suicide rate within all professions, in the country.

    -Long work hours and harsh working environments contribute to this statistic. It could also be that the US medical system may unique challenges that other countries do not.

    -By nature of the field though, medicine is a place where, what are normally considered traumatizing sights such as death/ pain/ blood and injury occur on a frequent basis.

    -How do you think you will overcome the fear of one day facing a patients death?

    -Are there students who have a critical fear of grotesque aspects like the above? How do they overcome this? Do some simply choose a specialty with overall less gore such as dermatology?

  • Gabriel Baluyut

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    March 23, 2021 at 10:27 pm
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    I’ve faced a lot of patients death before, and been involved in unsuccessful resuscitations, and even had the chance to cover the body and also check the body with a consultant – before the body was cremated.

    Weirdly, the situation of seeing a dead person was not as bad for me. Only because in the Philippines, we have a tradition that when one of our family members die, we bring their coffin to our house for a few weeks to pay our respects and say our goodbyes, so this somehow normalised it for me (as I’ve attended a few of those).

    Although, the most painful deaths are the ones where I got to know the patient and their family, or when the patient is very young. I’m always able to overcome the fear of being in the situation, but I don’t think I’ll ever overcome the pain in those type of situations. Nothing can ever prepare you for it. If you think you’re prepared, you aren’t – because when it happens, it’ll hit you. 🥺

    Ari Horesh voted up
  • Erina M

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    March 27, 2021 at 6:47 pm
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    Hi Gabz!

    Thank you SO much for sharing your real, first hand experience! It was surprising and painful to read the events you had to go through. Naively, I assumed that at an early stage of a career, juniors would not be involved AS often in such situations, and that the seniors would mainly handle them. You however, have already had your fair share of scenarios dealing face to face with pain and death.

    I hear that eventually, one becomes able to process, digest and move forward with grief. But I agree with you that as humans, the scars left will perhaps never heal. Right now, I believe the following method to be the most relevant solution, and find solace in it.

    Russell Wilson, an American football player, says that after his father’s death he acquired a sense of neutrality. This is not the same as being emotionless. It’s the ability to continue on with whatever you’re doing in the moment, not letting any type of emotion, good or bad, affect your state of mind. Wilson’s internal state would not fluctuate, regardless of the the external events occurring. He mentioned that this neutrality could be leveraged to perform under high pressure situations, including in his matches.

    My secret to staying focused under pressure | Russell Wilson https://youtu.be/BzVmRVKvKa0

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by  Erina M.

    Ari Horesh voted up
    • Gabriel Baluyut

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      April 2, 2021 at 3:45 am
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      No worries, I feel blessed being able to share these kind of experience to other people. Sometimes, people think that just because you’re in the medical field, you’re rich and happy, when this is not always the case!

      Yes, and as my programme was only 2 years, it was very fast paced and intense. We only had 6 weeks off in each year, so we had a lot of time in a clinical setting. MD students in the UK usually go through 4-6 years, and they do the clinical rotations in the last 2 years, so sometimes a PA student will experience more of these situations compared to a 1st-3rd year MD student. I guess it’s better to experience these kind of things ASAP.

      Oooooh, that’s very interesting. That “sense of neutrality” is definitely what I feel most of the time when facing these type of situations. I also agree with the video → “the mindset is a skill: it can be taught and learned”. It’s definitely what I’ve been trying to accomplish these days. The more control you have with your mind, the better you can live your life.

  • Erina M

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    April 3, 2021 at 2:22 pm
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    Hello Gabz (for the 100th time because you’re the only one ever reads my posts :P),

    It feels good to be able to talk about specific medical situations that you may not be able to share with a wider crowd right? 😉

    I see, so your program enforces you to go through the practicals at an early stage. Sounds intense!

    Did you feel like you were not prepared enough / it was too early?

    Did you find that spending extra time on the books and theories would have been better in terms of emotional readiness as well as knowledge?

    Apparently, some MD programs are starting to incorporate practicals at earlier years too, before 3rd year when it usually starts. Memorizing and learning by theory alone has its limits in retention.

    I do believe it’s best to simultaneously do the theoretical and practical parts of the same subject. Say you’re learning Hematology; visit a hematologist to witness the work that is actually involved (direct/indirect patient interaction, possibility of surgery, alternative options for ppl in the field like going to research lab, transferable specialities). This would depend on the disease they specialize in like anemia, leukemia, blood cancer, but the point is to witness what work in a real life situation for a specific field looks like.

    Erina M voted up
    • Gabriel Baluyut

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      May 23, 2021 at 11:23 am
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      Hello Erina!

      I love replying to your messages because they make me think too and exactly. In the UK, a lot of the “wider crowd” who had no medical background or who weren’t exposed to healthcare professional’s perspective in the hospital/GP, thought that Covid wasn’t as serious. This is why I believe people who works in healthcare need to raise more awareness and publicised what’s happening inside the hospitals without filter, because it definitely isn’t all happy and we don’t always save everyone.

      To be honest, yes I wasn’t prepared. They teach you the theory and the practicals, but it’s very different for when you’re facing real life situations. However it was definitely not too early, because the earlier you are exposed to clinical placements, the more practise and experience you’ll get – so you will be a lot more competent and you’ll also reinforce the knowledge you’ve learned in theory. You will just become an overall better clinician.

      Extra time on the books would have not been beneficial in my opinion. Most of the time, the patients present differently in comparison to the books anyways. Then once you’re in placements, you will also have time to go to teachings (where consultants/surgeons teach you) and you’ll also have after work to study more, so it’s not like you can’t study whilst on placements.

      Yes exactly! It’s a lot better to simultaneously do theory and practical at the same time. 😇

  • Eden Berenshtein

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    April 5, 2021 at 9:56 pm
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    hello , i know i’m a bit late in the convorsation (actually , came here to write about autism when i came across your conversation. 😆) but i really enjoyed to read it and thank you @Erina for sharing your thoughts. Thank you @Gabz for sharing your experiences as a doctor , this is priceless!

    So here are some of my thoughts about this topic :

    Well for me it’s more like i just love the rush. it’s a small thing i learned about myself during my time serving. sometimes i got cought in many situations where i had so little control and i just had to deliver, no matter what it takes (lets say i got more than once a frostbites and it was the least of my worries at the time ). i really related to the part in the video where he talks about analyzing the situation and ask yourself : where did i function best? how can i do it next time better? if i could have done something else different what would it be?

    And if your’e extreme like me , I would’ve look to put myself in stressful situations just for practice. This is really weird that i’m saying it out loud but i’m using like constactive imagination to put myself in this terms sometimes. For me when i imagine the worst case scenario before it actually happens it helps me to regain some of the control back.

    But even then, sometimes there is nothing you can do to get to the best outcome .And this is where you choose how to look at the situation. For example : If the paitent is dead because all of the sudden he got three types of cancer (yes , i’m getting some Grey’s anatomys vibes of drama 😂) , you can look at it as it is your faliure or you can say that if you were’nt there to help this person would have died for sure. So you actually did more good for him\her than bad. Its your choice how to take the bad parts of your life , at the end of the day those moments when you are at your lowest point this are just a teaching moments , this what makes us stronger.

    • Gabriel Baluyut

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      May 23, 2021 at 11:13 am
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      Hey Eden!

      That’s really insightful and great perspective from you. Love the Grey’s Anatomy reference hahahaha! Yes! Definitely our choice on how to take the bad experiences in our life. It definitely is a teaching experience that will be valuable in the future. 😇

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