#MedCanes Chronicles: How Do We Heal the Healers?

“#MedCanes Chronicles” offers first-person perspectives into the lives of medical students on their journey to becoming health care leaders. The series delves into the personal narratives of these aspiring doctors and scientists, shedding light on their struggles, triumphs and the resilience that propels them forward.

2024 #MedCanes Ambassador Amanda Kaine

In a world where self-doubt echoes through the minds of many, society often advises drowning out these thoughts with more work, an approach that, ironically, leads to greater exhaustion. This phenomenon, often termed “hustle culture,” champions an intense work ethic and minimal rest. Our society capitalizes on business and suppressing thought.

Then, yet again, internalized doubt surfaces and is consciously recognized within the memory system, only to be forced into a reservoir of ignorance. Why does this cycle persist? What are its effects? The analogy of a boat becoming too full and sinking aptly illustrates how we bury our thoughts. Rather than facing issues head-on, we resort to the sympathetic response—ignoring or running away. This fight-or-flight reaction is a recurring phenomenon in various aspects our lives.

We are healers. Those clad in PPE and donning scrubs. Those who know the halls of hospitals and research facilities better than those of our own homes. Who give of ourselves again, again and again. But what happens when we are broken?

During my gap year, I utilized my EMT license and worked for emergency medical services in conjunction with a fire department. Witnessing the burnout among my colleagues, who endured 24-hour shifts every third day for decades, raised important questions. Could this burnout be prevented?

In medical training, we now have an 80-hour-work-week limit for residents to prioritize wellness and prevent “living at the hospital.” However, we all have the same 168 hours in a week. To prevent burnout, we must use our off time to delve into our passions and rejoice with those we love. If we don’t, we can not only become physically ill, but mentally suffer, too.

Here are some things I like to do outside of medicine that benefits my overall health and positively impacts my mental health, too!

  1. Dance: I make it a point to dance weekly, coupled with stretching to maintain flexibility.
  2. Lifting weights: While it may sound cliché, exercise truly alleviates stress. Tune into motivational songs, lift weights and feel the benefits.
  3. Skin care/self-care hobbies: Prioritizing overall wellness, I indulge in monthly facials or hair treatments as a form of revitalization and relaxation.

Wellness is a unique journey for everyone. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Dealing with stress is a personal choice, but it’s crucial to maintain healthy habits that address both physical and mental health. A gentle reminder: You are important, and you deserve the same time and care you give to others!

Miller School medical students, share your journey or a classmate’s story.

Tags: #MedCanes Ambassadors, MedCanes Chronicles, medical students, Miller School of Medicine