Your July 16 feature “Healing the healers” (G section) got my attention. Deterioration of health care professionals’ well-being from excessive stress is a widespread problem. I have researched the issue through extensive interviews with award-winning physicians, and found that the doctors’ methods for avoiding burnout included: setting appropriate limits, sharing issues with family and friends, physical exercise and cultivating relaxation, and humor. In other words, they consistently practice the type of sensible advice that they might give to any of us if we were their overburdened and depleted patients.
My conversations with the physicians revealed that they have given much thought to the need for treating themselves well, too, so as to continue to be available to patients and peers alike. The physicians live by a creed of doing good while doing well by the patient, and recognize that there was a spiritual, but not necessarily religious, undercurrent to their work that feeds their sense of vitality.