Heart-wrenching photo of doctor crying goes viral. Here’s why.

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Outside of a Southern California hospital, an ER doctor is crouched down against a concrete wall grieving the loss of his 19-year-old patient. A paramedic snaps a photo of the tender scene. His coworker, a close friend of the doctor, posts the photo (with permission) online. Minutes after the photograph, the doctor returns to work “holding his head high.”

Thousands of people have commented on the web. In their own words, here is why the photo went viral:

1) Humans crave raw empathy. The photographer captures a poignant moment in a stoic profession that trains doctors to remain professionally distant. The voyeuristic photo reveals the emotional reality of doctoring—and a side of physicians that people don’t usually see—while uniting us all in our common humanity.

2) Unexpected death is universally heartbreaking. An ER doc, Smeee, writes:

When it comes to our work, nothing is harder—and I mean nothing—than telling a loved one that their family member is dead. Give me a bloody airway to intubate. Give me the heroin addict who needed IV access yesterday, but no one can get an IV. Give me the child with anaphylaxis. But don’t give me the unexpected death. . . . We can only do so much, and we can only hope to do our best. But it’s that moment, when you stop resuscitation, and you look around, you look down at your shoes to make sure there’s no blood on them before talking with family, you put your coat back on and you take a deep breath, because you know that you have to tell a family that literally the worst thing imaginable has happened. And it’s in that moment that I feel. And I feel like the guy in this picture.

3) Doctors are not allowed to grieve. A surgeon, TheGreatGator, shares, “We are never formally trained to deal with loss and/or with giving the worst news of a families life to them.” Another doctor, boldwhite, writes:

I know what that person is feeling. Yesterday one of my 17-month-old patients died. I was in the bathroom crying in private between patients several times yesterday. I’ve cried in stairwells and hallways. It eats at you. Life is very fragile and the pain of losing those we are trying to help becomes a scar that doesn’t go away. It has shaped who I am as a person.

4) In medicine, crying is unprofessional. That needs to change—now. A premedical student volunteering in the local ER tells me about a female physician who cried after losing a child. He thought her behavior was unprofessional. I asked him to consider, “Who did she harm by crying?” Meanwhile, a physician tells me she’s been cited for unprofessional conduct for crying at work. Her boss told her, “Unless you are dying, crying is unprofessional behavior and not to be tolerated.” Some physicians and young doctors-in-training are uncomfortable with tears. Grieving is a healthy reaction to sadness. Humans bond through shared pain. Please do not punish your colleagues for their willingness to be vulnerable with grief-stricken families. Real doctors cry.

5) Patients want doctors who cry. Patients are comforted when doctors grieve with them. Vicki Allemand Scott, a mother on Facebook, concurs, “When my daughter passed away the doctors and nurses formed a wall in front of us until she was gone. ALL of these wonderful people were crying just as much as we were. I will never forget the kindness and compassion we were shown by these special people.”

6) Real men cry. Men are socialized not to cry. This photo honors a man for having the courage to cry. A son, livinbandit, shares:

My dad is an ER doctor, and has been for as long as I’ve been alive, always working nights. He doesn’t usually talk about patients, but he would talk about the gross things he’s had to deal with around the dinner table with the family. The times that I do remember though, however rare they were, were the times he would come home, and cry in my mother’s arms because there was someone that he couldn’t save no matter how hard he tried . . . He didn’t think any of us kids were watching, but I seemed to always see. I’ve never had more respect for my dad then when I would see him cry because he felt like he could have done more . . . Even if he couldn’t have.

7) More than anything—doctors need your empathy. What happens when the physician in the photo pulls himself together and gets back to work? One commenter on Reddit, PM_YOUR_PANTY_DRAWER, suggests the sad reality:

The part most people fail to realize, is that this man now has to compose himself, walk into another person’s room, and introduce himself with a smile and handshake to the next person. Sometimes healthcare workers walk in to see someone new and before even introducing themselves, out comes; ‘We’ve been sitting here for 45 minutes and . . .’ or ‘That guy next door has been moaning forever and nobody is helping him.’ You literally had to direct yourself 100% at someone grappling with death, and the rest of the show goes on around you.

There’s times where you run, and rush, and hurry, and skip eating, and go 12 hours without urinating, and you’d give your firstborn for a cup of water, and through it all, you lose, you get complained to, and you get zero sympathy from your coworkers or management. I’ve been covered in phlegm, urine, feces, blood, infectious drainage, sweat, and tears. I’ve had to go from ensuring a person continues to breathe, to a room full of angry people because grandma wanted a Tylenol and the call light has been on for 10 minutes, and we’re going to another hospital, and we want another doctor, and this place is getting a call to the administration, and I’m going to call a lawyer, and I’m calling channel 6 news, and we know so-and-so and he’s going to hear about this.

Healthcare is a life of fighting, defending yourself, sacrificing yourself, working weekends, missing holidays, and sometimes things like losing a patient makes you want to throw up your hands and say ‘fuck it, I’m out.’ But you can’t. You do it because you love it. You do this thankless and unappreciated job because you want to. I can’t believe I’m in 6-figure debt and gave up the nights and weekends of my 20s so I could voluntarily do it. But I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

One doctor, jimbomac, has a simple request: “Let me tell you those ‘thank-you’ cards probably mean more to us than you think . . . we do hugely appreciate when people like yourselves take the time to say thanks.”

8) Doctors who don’t grieve get sick.  Unprocessed grief is dangerous for human health. My Facebook friend, Joe Jacobs, writes:

I had a friend who was consuming heavy amounts of cocaine in the 80s trying to deal with a doctor’s life. He was a Cedars doctor making big bucks and living a prestigious life so I asked him why and he responded with. Paraphrase: I’m an oncologist who thought I would be able to help using the latest cure methods. I find myself head of the ward of incurables and it is my job to ease their pain and watch them die and then watch the response of family members to the outcomes.

9) If you don’t cry, you die. In my recent article, Physician Bullying: ‘Not Allowed to Cry’ I discuss unprocessed grief as a root cause of physician bullying, abuse, depression—even suicide. Both men I dated in med school died by suicide. Brilliant physicians. One overdosed at a medical conference. The other overdosed after work. In just over a year, we lost three physicians in my town to suicide. Gunshot wounds, mostly. One local doc lost seven colleagues to suicide—so far. Our profession punishes doctors for grieving and restricts the medical licenses of those seeking mental health care. So rather than process our grief, many docs turn to alcohol, drugs, firearms.

10) The physician in this photo is a modern day hero.

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Pamela Wible, M.D., is a family physician and pioneer in the ideal medical care movement. She hosts physician retreats to help her colleagues heal from grief and reclaim their lives and careers.

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My testimony in support of medical student mental health to the Missouri State Legislature for House Bill 867

I’m Dr. Pamela Wible, a family physician in Oregon. I’ve submitted my CV, witness form, and transcript of my testimony to Chairman Frederick. My schedule prevents me from traveling to Missouri for today’s hearing; however, I thank Vice Chairman Morris and the Committee for allowing me to testify remotely in support of House Bill 867, legislation that would require Missouri medical schools to screen students for depression and offer mental health referrals for those at risk.

Medical Student Stress *

Medical students face enormous stress. Their workload and debt load are immense. They witness incredible human suffering with no emotional support or debriefing. Routinely sleep deprived, they’re groomed in a medical culture that rewards self-neglect and often condones bullying.

Medical students are afraid to seek help for fear of retaliation or discrimination. Medical students are afraid to seek counseling because medical boards like the one in Missouri ask applicants if they’ve ever been treated for mental health issues. Checking the “yes” box can lead to a subpoena of one’s “confidential” medical records.

Medical students enter medical school with their mental health on par with or better than their peers. Up to 30% develop depression and 10% become suicidal during each year of medical school. Both men I dated in medical school died by suicide. Depression and suicide are known occupational hazards in medicine.

More than 400 U.S. doctors die by suicide annually. Widespread underreporting and miscoding of death certificates suggest the number is closer to 800. That’s like losing all 391 medical students enrolled at the University of Missouri Columbia School of Medicine plus the 433 students at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine— every year.

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Please join me in support of House Bill 867

House Bill 867 benefits medical students. This bill will de-stigmatize mental illness and normalize medical students’ rights to request and receive confidential mental health care. Student participation is voluntary and student data remains anonymous unless students select otherwise.

HB 867 benefits families by making mental health data transparent across all 6 Missouri medical schools. In medicine, informed consent is the standard of care, yet medical students and their families have not been informed of the health risks of a medical education.

Last fall, I attended a funeral. Kaitlyn Elkins was a star third-year medical student described by her family as “one of the happiest people on this Earth.” She died by suicide, but the funeral wasn’t for Kaitlyn. It was for Rhonda Elkins, Kaitlyn’s mother. Unable to recuperate from her daughter’s suicide, Rhonda took her own life. I asked Rhonda’s husband, “If Kaitlyn worked at Walmart, would she and your wife still be alive?” He said, “Yes. Medical school has cost me half my family.”

HB 867 also benefits patients. The best way to care for patients is to first care for our doctors-in- training. Let’s practice what we teach. By truly caring for our medical students we demonstrate how we expect them to care for patients. The cost of not caring for our young doctors-in-training is more tragedy. Each year nearly 1 million Americans lose their doctors to suicide.

Finally, I support House Bill 867 because it benefits medical schools. We teach medical students the value of evidence-based medicine, but if our medical schools are exempt from collecting evidence on medical student depression, how can we evaluate student mental health? How will we know the impact of medical school wellness programs? The psychological well being of Missouri medical students is just as important as their academic performance. This bill finally gives us the data we need to properly care for and educate the future physicians of America.

On behalf of all medical students nationwide, I thank you for your support.

 Click here to read House Bill 867

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Pamela Wible, M.D., is a pioneer in the ideal medical care movement. When not treating patients, she dedicates her time to medical student and physician suicide prevention. Dr. Wible is the recipient of the 2015 Women Leader in Medicine Award.

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Pamela Wible, M.D. named 2015 Women Leader in Medicine (acceptance speech)

On February, 26, 2015, Pamela Wible, M.D., was named the 2015 Women Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Student Association in Washington D.C. Dr. Wible was nominated by American premedical and medical students as one of the most inspiring women educators in medicine today. Her acceptance speech is filmed and fully transcribed below.

INTRODUCTION: Pamela Wible, M.D., is a family physician born into a family of physicians. In 2004, fed up with left assembly-line medicine, Dr. Wible held town hall meetings where she invited citizens to design their very own ideal clinic. Open since 2005, Wible’s innovative model has sparked a populist movement that has inspired Americans to create ideal clinics and hospitals nationwide.

Pamela Wible’s model is now taught in medical schools and undergraduate medical humanities courses and is featured in the Harvard School of Public Health’s newest edition of Renegotiating Health Care: Resolving Conflict to Build Collaboration, a textbook examining major trends with the potential to change the dynamics of health care. Dr. Wible is also the author of Amazon’s top-rated Pet Goats & Pap Smears: 101 Medical Adventures to Open Your Heart & Mind—a book that I had the pleasure of reading and being inspired by a year ago.

When not treating patients in her community clinic, Dr. Wible devotes her time to medical student and physician suicide prevention. Dr. Wible’s work in this area was a huge component of why I nominated her for this award. I truly believe that the conversation that Dr. Wible is beginning about suicide prevention is turning the light toward medical students to reexamine their own wellness as well as the wellness that we provide our peers.

A graduate of Wellesley College, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the University of Arizona Department of Family & Community Medicine, Dr. Wible is now called to help students and  physicians deliver ideal care to their communities. It is such an honor to introduce Dr. Pamela Wible, an inspiring leader and educator of the next generation of physicians as the 2015 Women Leaders in Medicine Award winner.

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Well, I like to start with my favorite quote. A zen poet once said, “A person who is a master in the art of living makes little distinction between their work and their play, their labor and their leisure, their mind and their body, their education and their recreation,  their love and their religion. They hardly know which is which and simply pursue their vision of excellence and grace, whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing. To them, they are always doing both.”

Medicine is an apprenticeship profession. We learn to be doctors—by studying doctors. And patients learn by studying us. The word doctor means teacher. But what are we teaching? If doctors are victims, patients (and medical students) learn to be victims. If doctors are discouraged, patients (and medical students) learn to be discouraged.  If we want happy, healthy patients, we must fill our clinics & hospitals with happy, healthy doctors. 

But when I look around, I really don’t see many happy doctors. So my mentors are—medical students. I love your youthful joy and exuberance and I’m inspired by your endless curiosity and conviction and compassion. I want to grow up to be just like YOU.

I want to be like Becky, she’s a medical student in Oklahoma. She has a dream of providing care to the poorest of the poor of Oklahoma City. And I want to be like Julia, a med student I met in New Jersey. She wants to open her clinic on an organic farm. And I want to be like Sasha, a premedical student from Pennsylvania who wants to “cry with and love on” her patients. I am inspired to be the best version of myself when I think of these people and when I think of medical students and the joy and love that they have and the desire that they have to serve people when they enter medical school. And so I want to keep that joy alive for the rest of your medical career. And I want to bring that joy back to my colleagues who have lost this.

I’m a family physician in Oregon and I love my patients. I hug them and kiss them, and I do housecalls. And they all have my home phone number. I’m on call 24/7. That would seem like a hardship, but it’s not. I never really feel like I’m working. I think that’s because I’m self-employed—which is how most doctors worked until very recently. For centuries physicians have been self-employed.

One reason why I like being self-employed is that I haven’t had to set an alarm clock in 10 years for work. Because I work afternoons and evenings 3 half-days per week and it’s AWESOME! I highly recommend it. And I like being self-employed because I’ve never turned anyone away for lack of money. Because I’m the boss and I can do that. And I like the boss. Being self-employed I have a lot of fun. I can break the rules that don’t make sense because I’m self-employed. And here are 3 rules that don’t make sense and I would encourage you all not to follow these 3 “rules” in our profession:

1)  I refuse to practice professional distance. Because what patients really want is professional closeness.

2)  I refuse to practice cookbook medicine. Because patients aren’t chocolate chip cookies. I’m not a cookie cutter doctor—and neither are you.

3)  I refuse to practice assembly-line medicine. Because I didn’t go to medical school for all these years to be a turned into a factory worker—and neither did you. Patients aren’t looking for a factory worker or a zombie robot. They are looking for a real human being so I would encourage you to stay real during your training. You’re going to be a lot happier that way.

The other thing about breaking away from assembly-line medicine as was discussed during my introduction is that I was able to create a new model with the help of my community. I basically had a town hall meeting where I told everyone that my job sucked and that I was suicidal and that if they didn’t come up with a better way [for me to practice medicine] I was just going to be a waitress or something. I just could not see continuing practicing medicine in this insane corporate assembly-line 7-minute-visit practice style so I collected 100 pages of written testimony. I pretty much told them I would do whatever they wanted as long as it was basically legal. So if you could just tell me what’s your dream. Write my job description for me if you wouldn’t mind because it’s not really working for administrators to write my job description. I’d rather work for the people themselves. And I got 100 pages of testimony and was able to adopt 90% of what patients needed in my town and we were open one month later! It’s not rocket science. You don’t really need to wait for the government to do this for you.

Buckminster Fuller has a quote I really like. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model [ideal medical care] that makes the existing model [assembly-line medicine] obsolete.” I hope you’ll join the movement for ideal medical care and that YOU will be the change you want to see in medicine.

“A dysfunctional medical system can only exist on the backs of a disempowered physician population—the precursor of which is an abused medical student population.”   

So I hope during medical school you will break the rules when need be and that you won’t be too well-behaved. And that you will stand up against intimidation, bullying, and abuse because it doesn’t get better. You might as well stand up at the beginning.

We need to take our profession back. And if you need any help feel free to Facebook me, be my friend, email me, call me anytime. My home phone number is 541-345-2437. Put it on speed dial in case you are bullied or abused. I am accessible. In case you want to know sooner than later what to do, come to my talk on Saturday. I’m giving a talk on some strategies that you can use to confront unethical behavior in medical school with grace and success.

“The truth is: it’s impossible to be a victim and a healer at the same time. So I hope you’ll choose being a healer rather than a victim.”                                

And I thought I’d read this most beautiful chapter that came out of a series of interviews with doctors called The Raw Truth. This is the reason why I became a doctor and I think it is why many of us became doctors.

I often wonder: Why am I a doctor?

I want to live in the real world, a world without pretense, a world where people can’t hide behind money or status. Illness uncovers our authenticity. Doctoring satiates my need to be witnessed and to witness the raw, uncensored human experience. I crave intensity.

Like an emotional bungee jumper, I live to inhale the last words of a dying man, to hear the first cry of a newborn baby, to feel the slippery soft skin in my hands, to cut the cord and watch a drop of blood fall on my shoe, to wipe a new mother’s tears, to introduce a father to his son, to hold a daughter’s hand as she kisses her father good-bye one last time.

I am a doctor because I refuse to be numb. I want to live on the precipice of the underworld, the afterworld, to look into patients’ eyes, to free-fall into an abyss of love, despair, death and then wake up tomorrow and do it all again.

Maybe doctoring fills a hole, a void. I doctor for connection, to be needed—to be loved.

Chapter 90, The Raw Truth, Pet Goats & Pap Smears. 

And in summary, at its core, doctoring is intimacy and intimacy means “in-to-me-see.” It’s when we see so deeply into another, that we find our own reflections and discover ourselves. So I’d like to ask you to be a healer and not a factory worker.  And I’d like to ask you to take your eyes off your computer and look into your patients. Because it’s there [in your patients’ eyes] that you will find the truth and discover yourself and your path in medicine. Thank you.

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Dr. Wible’s Q & A went on for 2 hours after her acceptance speech. Here are some of the medical students and physicians who hung out with her until nearly midnight:

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Need a speaker at your next event? Contact Dr. Pamela Wible to speak at your grand rounds, medical conferences, and medical school commencement ceremonies.

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A physician quits assembly-line medicine. Here’s what happens next . . .

A few months ago a physician friend Facebooks me:

I only have 7 days of clinic left. Just finished two weekends back to back so it will be something like 20 days in a row that I worked before I get a chance to breathe. One weekend was “punishment” for my subpar production due to attending your retreat. Just have call on Christmas and I’ll be done. I’m already getting calls for the new clinic, so things are looking up!

She writes back today:

Man, there is so much I wanna tell you! So much has happened! First it seemed like nothing was happening and then everything happened at once. We opened our doors last Friday and have seen 22 patients so far. We are trying to start slow, but our phone is blowing up!

I thought I would maybe be seeing one patient a day, but it’s been 4 to 6 AND I AM NOT EVEN TRYING! We haven’t even told people we are open! I haven’t even said anything on Facebook. It is fucking surreal! And get this—we had a 100% show rate, everyone arrived early, and they all paid without me asking for money. We paid our monthly overhead within the first few days.

So first day of clinic last Friday, we decided to do a “soft open.” We basically only scheduled 2 patients—both who have seen me for over 2 years and wouldn’t mind any hiccups. The visits are amazing. I don’t feel like I’m a doctor at all. It feels like hanging out with friends. It’s comfortable—like coming home and being able to just be yourself, but I am helping people and it feels—like me—like the me that I knew before I got lost in the insanity of assembly-line medicine. It feels like destiny—like I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing at this very minute—what I was born to do! Everything goes smoothly, and both my husband and I are beaming.

I had told him that morning I hadn’t felt so hot, but I chocked it up to excitement and nerves. I’m trying to finish my charts up when it hits me. First diarrhea. Then vomiting. Ugh.

So here I am trying to knock out this last chart while puking into the trash can and making furious diarrhea runs to the bathroom (no pun intended). And I start laughing—laughing so hard I am crying and can’t breathe. He thought I’d lost my mind. To answer his quizzical look, I said between gasps:

“I just realized that working in our own clinic—even though I am simultaneously puking and trying not to shit my pants—trumps the best day I ever had in assembly-line medicine.”

And that’s no lie!

Pamela:

YAY!!!!! TOLD YOU SOOOOO!!!!!!!! I’d love to talk to ya this weekend after you are done puking and PLEASE send me your website so I can promote you (not sure you even need more patients). Are you doing cash only or insurance or a mix? Let’s talk soon.

She explains:

Doing all cash. I seriously can’t believe that people pay cash to see me! It kinda blows my mind. Puking is over. So yeah, let me know when is good for you!

Website—not up yet and I’m kind of glad for now. Will wait until I feel like we can handle more people—it was a little overwhelming when we were getting all these calls and unable to see people. I will let you know when we get one though!

Pamela:

You TOTALLY have the market cornered because you are the ONLY ideal psychiatrist in the state I would bet!!!!! SO PROUD OF YOU!! SEEE!!! I TOLD YOU SOO!!!!!!!!!

PamVDClinic

She replies:

Annnnnnd, you’ll love my fortune cookie from tonight!

FC

Pamela Wible, M.D., pioneered the first ideal clinic designed entirely by patients. Now she hosts physician retreats to help her colleagues off the assembly line and into their ideal clinics. 

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Assisted Physician Suicide: Are Doctors Killing Doctors?

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Standing on the edge of his hotel balcony, a doctor describes the rolling hills. He tells me, “It’s a beautiful place to die.” Ten minutes later, he agrees not to injure himself—for now.

I’m not running a physician suicide hotline. But doctors keep calling me.

It’s midnight and I’m speaking to a psychiatry intern. Bullied by residents and her attending, she cries, “I’ve lost my self-confidence. I’m depressed. On psych meds now. But I don’t feel better.”

Then a fourth-year medical student shares a similar story. “I was normal before med school. Now I’m so afraid. I can’t go on,” she sobs.

I counsel each woman for nearly an hour: “You are not defective, the system is defective. We enter medicine with our mental health on par with or better than our peers. Depression and suicide are occupational hazards of our profession.” Thankfully neither are actively suicidal. Both women just needed to talk—to cry—and to hear the truth.

The truth is doctors are suffering. Surrounded by sickness and death, we watch families wail, shriek, cry while we stand silently—sacred witness to their sorrow—until we’re called to the next room for a heart attack, a gunshot wound, a stillborn. Week by week. Year by year. And when do we grieve? Never.

Doctors are not allowed to grieve.

Today a physician tells me she’s been cited for unprofessional conduct. Why?  She was seen crying. Her boss told her, “Unless you are dying, crying is unprofessional behavior and not to be tolerated.”

Then a retired doc tears up as she tells me about a miscarriage she witnessed 30 years ago. She thanks me. Why? She hasn’t been able to cry in 5 years.

Doctors are not allowed to cry.

So what do we do with our sadness? We injure ourselves—and each other.

When I speak to victims of physician bullying, I explain, “Your instructors are suffering from unprocessed grief—probably victims of bullying themselves. Medicine is an apprenticeship profession. Trained by wounded doctors, they’re now wounding you. Your bright eyes, your enthusiasm, your idealism remind them of their loss. Rather than feel their own grief, they lash out at you.”

Individual psychiatric therapy can’t solve institutional trauma. Collective wounds demand collective healing. Doctors are not defective. Our profession is.

And hiding our pain ain’t working. Recently the janitor at a medical conference asked, “What’s with all the grim faces and sad eyes?” To the average person, medical conventions look like funerals. Maybe that’s because doctors are dying by suicide at twice the rate of their patients.

Both men I dated in med school died by suicide. Brilliant physicians. One overdosed at a medical conference. The other overdosed after work. In just over a year, we lost 3 physicians in my town to suicide. Gunshot wounds mostly. One local doc lost 7 colleagues to suicide—so far.

Too often physicians turn to alcohol, drugs, firearms. But why don’t doctors seek professional help? Some do.

Some doctors drive hundreds of miles out of town for therapy. They pay cash for visits with no paper trail. They use fake names. Physicians who seek mental health care know they may face board investigation and license restriction—and those with licensing issues have even higher rates of suicide.

If we want real health care, we must first do no harm to our healers. Imagine if we allowed doctors to grieve.

I once attended an African grief ritual. Villagers wail around a fire for 3 days in a highly emotive ceremony. Attendance is mandatory. Why? Those who don’t grieve become the village troublemakers next year.

Physician bullies are medicine’s troublemakers. And they need our help—and compassion. Not threats. Not license restrictions. Not public shaming. They need psychological support. And so do the rest of us.

Anna, a retired surgeon, still carries the wounds from her medical school professor:

I was happy, secure, and mostly unafraid until the age of thirty. Until med school. I do not know what happened precisely, but I do recall in vivid detail that on the first (orientation) day of med school the MD who was our anatomy professor, and therefore largely controlled our lives for the next many months, stood before an auditorium filled with 125 eager, nervous, idealistic would-be healers and said these words: ‘If you decide to commit suicide, do it right so you do not become just a burden to society.’ He then described in anatomical detail how to commit suicide.

Anna’s experience is not unique. Physicians-in-training are given explicit instructions from their instructors in proper techniques for overdosing on lethal medications too.

Anna concludes:

Through the many years of training and through what would appear to the observer a successful career in a surgical subspecialty and now into retirement, I have carried the anxiety, and the depression, and the fear. . . . I still remember how to successfully commit suicide because someone who had power over me at a vulnerable time described the details. And we wonder why . . .

Pamela Wible, M.D., was once a suicidal physician. An expert in medical student and physician suicide prevention, She hosts physician retreats to help her colleagues heal from grief and reclaim their careers.

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Are you receiving health care or abuse?

Abuse ScheduleA physician in Texas posts this photo on Facebook. Caption: “My schedule one morning in January 2014. Never again . . .”

Yay! Another physician breaks free from assembly-line medicine.

High-overhead, high-volume offices sacrifice the sacred physicians-patient relationship and perpetuate a disease-billing management system. This is NOT health care. It’s abuse.

Patients: avoid clinics with 10-minute slots. Go for docs who offer 30-60 minute appointments. Physicians: stop following the same old practice management advice. Follow you Facebook friends. They offer the best support and business tips:

This is so sad!!!!

I can’t believe people practice like this! Every 10 minutes??? We’re doctors, not robots!

And this is what people have to spend their hard earned money on insurance for. Pretty sad, but mostly sad for the exhausted doctor who can’t possible be making a difference in someone’s life with 10 minutes.

Throw in a cumbersome EMR and that’s a recipe for surefire burnout by 10 am!

I was a medical assistant back in the day for a physician who kept a schedule like this. This is an impossible schedule to maintain and just sets up a system where the individuals involved with providing care constantly feel like they are failing. Very demoralizing. Very depressing. Definitely not a practical approach for the patient or the physician (and his/her minions). I used to get chastised for taking “too long” to collect a patient history (even five minutes was considered “too long”) and the physician told me I had to “stop talking to the patients so much.” I told the physician that there was no way to get an accurate history without talking to the patients for more than five minutes… the physician told me I would “eventually grow out of my need to talk to people.” Ha. Wrong.

This makes me want to cry.

This has been normal for the state NHS GPs here in the UK for over a decade! Only now are they burning out as the state wants them to do surveys, audits, med reviews, etc as well as consult with the pt in the same 10 mins!

Obscene.

This is crazy, not only does this burnout the physician but how on earth can any true healing happen with type of schedule, no time to even talk to them no wonder the country’s health sucks and we spend so much money because there is no healing in the business of medicine.

Welcome to my world. Friday, like too many days, I did not get to pee or have a sip of water…eating almost never happens and a “lunch” doesn’t exist… I felt like I was in solitary confinement. Thank God I still love what I do and love my patients—these are the only two things that keep me going.

That’s nuts!

Yes, and the amount of documentation required to be reimbursed adequately for that 10-15 min visit takes about 25 mins each patient unless you can stomach being a fraud (which I cannot) so then you’re perpetually behind on that, so…the cycle is very dissatisfying and makes a lot of us wish we had chosen another career option, but then we realize that our medical school debt is so deep that there is no other option for us, so we carry on…  :(

When did this great country become a country of wimps and sickly people?

Dear physicians, NPs & PAs: PLEASE rebel when the bean counters try to do this to you.

We write our own stories through the choices we make.

You have the power to say NO!

Pamela Wible, M.D., is the founder of the ideal medical care movement. She teaches physician retreats where she helps physicians reclaim their lives and their careers—so patients can finally get the care they deserve.

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