The Dark Side Awakens

Episode 2. I’m a surgeon. A simple one. I didn’t intend to trigger an outpouring of emotions. I didn’t plan on ever ‘going viral’. But since I wrote The Dark Side of Doctoring 4 days ago, I have had a huge amount of response. On top of the 150,000 hits on my article and the phone calls from several News Agencies, nurses in clinic and theatres have asked if I was OK. I was visited by the Head of ENT Department and the Head of the Division of Surgery. I was contacted by so many fellow doctors, nurses, clinicians from places as far away as Singapore, Sweden and South Africa. My email inbox has been flooded by many doctors, nurses, medical students and their partners who wrote about their own personal struggles in the institutions that they work in. Just take a peek at the comments section to that original article. Heart-breaking.

I have cried over so many of these personal stories. I am seeing many doctors, nurses and medical students in distress. I am seeing a generation of health care workers suffocated and strangulated by their circumstances. (If I haven’t replied, I will!) The conversations are already happening. Much of it online because they’re afraid to do it in real life.

The message from all these responses is clear, “I get you. I feel the same way too. I am not coping with this industrialisation of Medicine.” The article has triggered a universal emotion that many health care workers feel about the state of their vocation. I hope it has catalysed an awareness of this issue in medical institutions where you are.

Now that the Dark Side has Awoken, can we talk about this openly? If you are a Health Administrator, can you please listen to your Clinicians (that includes physiotherapists, audiologists, speech pathologists, Ambulance officers, etc) on the frontlines? We don’t need more programs, initiatives, directives, protocols, videos to watch or numbers to call. We know that those kind of help are available. We need workplace morale to be lifted. If you’re not going to start at the top, we are going to start from the bottom. Elevating workplace morale does not have to be expensive or prescriptive. It can be creative.

If you’re a health institution or health administrator or health leader in anyway, be courageous enough to tackle this elephant in your institution. Be courageous enough to champion this issue. You might save the reputation of your institutions, reduce sick leave, improve workplace environment and possibly save some lives.

I have some ideas about what we can do down at the trenches. We don’t need to halt the Industrialisation of Medicine. We can Humanise it. We can inject compassion into this Business of Medicine. We can regain some measure of control, support and meaning in Medicine. For the sake of our patients and the future generations of health care workers, can we please talk about simple, creative, compassionate human solutions to this problem?

Put up some ideas for discussion please.

This is Episode 2 of a Trilogy

Episode 1: The Dark Side of Doctoring

Episode 3: Restoring Hope and Humanity to Health Care