“Recommit. Rethink Reinforce! Don’t let the detractors bring you down!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
It’s pretty easy to become dispirited. Particularly when you are attacked simply for doing your job.
If you are a medical doctor, you’ve gone from managing the triage situation of dealing with dying Covid patients to people accusing you of being part of some grand global plot.
If you are a climate scientist, you live every day with the horror of knowing that we are running up an inviolable metric, and yet are attacked by people for making up facts and pursuing an ‘agenda.’
If you are in government, you might be one who ran for office to try to achieve some good for your fellow man or woman, only to live a life that is full of rage attacks driven by an increasing threat of violence.
If you are a teacher, you pursued your career because of your love of knowledge, but you find yourself under attack for the simple process of providing books to students to engage and expand their minds.
If you believe in racial or gender acceptance and equality, you are now seeing your efforts being trampled as rights are being squandered and rolled back, combined with an acceleration of hate.
If you are a woman, you’ve had to deal with the sudden reality that your fundamental human rights have been stripped away from you in the name of some bastardized religion.
If you believe in justice, you are enraged to see the leader of an insurrection remain free from the scales of justice.
It is so easy to lose faith – because at the same time that this is happening, you are surrounded by hypocrisy. Corporations proclaim they support ‘diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives,‘ but then demonstrate that it is just lip service by their donations to politicians and candidates on the far right. The same companies that put in place expansive and lofty climate goals quickly turn around and fund carbon companies and carbon politicians. The same organizations that publically support the need for some sort of rational online free speech content moderation quietly cheer on the individual who has torn it down.
If you want to get really depressed, follow Judd Legrum’s Popular Information newsletter. I force myself to read his material – just as enraging and depressing as it might be – to try to understand the nature of the battle that people of values are up against.
How do you battle the cynicism, the burnout, the constant browbeating, and the fraud?
Chase your beliefs. Commit to your cause. Double down on your personal or professional oath.
Find the information that reinforces your values.
Just yesterday, this insight floated into my consciousness from one of the smartest energy guys I know.
Seeing information like that helps to remind us that despite the bastards getting us down, the inviolable march of science and economics marches on!
I am amazed a the resilience of some communities and professions in the face of negative adversity. I remember watching an online community of emergency room doctors during the earliest days of Covid; they were gathering on Twitter to share ideas as to what to do to deal with the horror they were witnessing and battling against. Patients in hallways gasping for air, dying in plain view – these doctors were sharing their ideas on their latest desperate measures to deal with a medical circumstance they had never trained for. I remember seeing a post from one ER doctor out of New York, in which he stated that he was not following established medical protocol anymore — because the protocol had never envisioned the complexity. He was making it up as he went. They all were.
What drove these people then, and what drives them today? How do they keep going in the face of burnout? The Hippocratic Oath. It’s at the core of who they are:
THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH: MODERN VERSION
I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.
What can you do in these circumstances? No matter who you are, and no matter your professional or personal circumstances, you are driven and guided by some sort of personal oath. Your commitment, your values, your beliefs. The essence of your belief in who you are – it’s the core of your virtuous soul. You need to nurture it, reinforce it, reinvent it, and recommit to it.
AS YOU do so, double down on your own personal care. In that vein, I found this fascinating article about the oath of the medical community – and how it is necessary for doctors to reinforce their oath with a thought to their own care.
Dr Sam Hazledine, founder of MedRecruit, said he was confident following public consultation his proposed addition to the Declaration of Geneva, which puts a focus on doctors’ wellbeing, would be ratified at the next full general assembly in Chicago next October.
The idea to petition for another value to be added to the modern-day Hippocratic oath came after speaking to graduation medical students around New Zealand last year about the results of several years of research he did into the wellbeing of doctors.
The research showed 87% of doctors were “stressed beyond levels that are productive”.
“In a survey of over 12,000 doctors, only 6% rated their morale as positive.
“Over 50% of doctors are right now experiencing symptoms of burnout. Over 50% regret the decision to become doctors.
“The profession is in a massive crisis, but it’s a crisis we hide behind our professional facade.
“The worst part comes from more research I did which is stress in doctors leads to depersonalisation, which is an emotional disconnection from our patients, and depersonalisation leads to increases in major medical errors.
“So when I found that … it takes the link from ‘stress is bad in our profession’ to ‘stress is harming our patients’ and at that point it becomes a ‘must-change’ [situation].”
Dr Hazledine said core to the medical profession was the “patient-came-first” attitude, which meant doctors sacrificed their own wellbeing for that of their patients.
“The shift is not saying ‘put the patients second’; it’s saying ‘the patients come first, so I really need to look after myself’.
“If we can change the Declaration of Geneva, our value set as doctors, then that can influence every doctor in the world and then that will influence every person in the world, because we’re all touched by doctors.”
Traction to change Hippocratic oath
4 November 2016, Otago Daily Times
A QUEENSTOWN-BASED doctor has successfully petitioned the World Medical Association to look at changing the Physician’s Oath.
Think about the date of that article – more than 1/2 were burned out long before the pandemic. I shudder to think about what the statistic might be today. But beyond the stat is this – some consideration in the medical community that doctors should not only be committed to the care of their patients cares – but they should also be responsible for the care of themselves.
Reinforcing. Recommitting. Rethinking. Don’t let the bastards bring you down!
(This was the second version of my image – I put both images out to a social network for a vote, and there was a tie. So I ran with the first one!)
You don’t need a superpower. You just need to be you. Remind yourself of who you are.
Serving humanity does not require a superpower or a special ability. The only tool that is needed to do good for humanity is empathy. Kindness is the key to be an instrument of inclusivity without any discrimination of caste, colour, and religion.
Upholding the spirit of the hippocratic oath
30 January 2023, Pakistan Observer
You are responsible! At any time, anywhere, let your beliefs define your actions and your values drive your goals.