Coping with Isolation
All Alone on Kangaroo Island
By Tim Leeuwenburg
Rural doctors in Australia are the ‘swiss army knives’ of medicine – trained not just in primary care, but also emergency medicine, obstetrics and anaesthetics. Any talk on rural medicine usually covers heroic tales – emergency surgical airways, Burr holes in the bush, walking blood bank donors for PPH….all the stuff we talk about in FOAMed and SoMe circles…and this is what I thought I would talk about at #smaccUS – a conference of 2500 critical care clinicians in Chicago, to which I’d been invited to speak in the “You’re On Your Own” concurrent session. But instead I flipped the title “All Alone on Kangaroo Island” – instead this talk peels back the notion of the rural or critical care doctor as SuperMan/SuperWoman – and instead talks honestly about clinician vulnerability, depression & burnout from a personal perspective.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – from such vulnerability over medical error or administrative frustration comes emotions such as guilt…and this can spur us into action. My guilt over a medical mistake set me on a path to excellence via FOAMed…whilst, the connectivity of the social media world of FOAMed has helped me develop emotional resilience as well as the oft-talked about cognitive resilience in critical care. I illustrate with a few examples.
Make no mistake – the heroes are our patients. So – join me in exposing the vulnerable side of critical care…..