In the competitive and paradoxically-isolating era of modern medicine and social media, we must reduce the stigma of not only mental illness, but also of occasionally being less than stellar. Improvements in work environment and lifestyle balance are key to improving the physician condition, but we must also endeavor to support each other with empathy and compassion for the benefit of our patients and our health care system.
Lately, I have been thinking about the lies we tell each other as doctors. Mostly, these are lies of omission. We share stories of slick procedures, clever diagnoses, and post-shift half-marathons. We skip over the mediocre feedback that followed us home. We hide the weekends that we waste wallowing in exhaustion and self-pity. Sometimes it seems harmless – considerate, even – to keep this heavy stuff to ourselves, but these lies create a climate of inadequacy and isolation. There is nothing lonelier than believing that no one is struggling but you.