Voices: Learning how to take care of ourselves | Katherine R. Tucker, MD
After spending years learning how to take care of others, I realized this year that studying medicine hadn’t taught me how to take care of myself. The tools I was using to stay grounded and balanced were simply a way to ignore my personal needs. I had to admit personal failure and overcome my deep-rooted stigma of asking for help.
With gratitude and thanksgiving | Wellness Task Force
Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. And while it is traditionally a time of giving thanks, many of us will be on call. Some of us will miss family dinner and holiday traditions, and undoubtedly all of us at some point in our career, have felt guilt over gratitude on Thanksgiving (or any) Day, as we ask our loved ones to sacrifice for the career we have chosen. Here’s the thing that is easy to forget – our loved ones are proud of us and the work we do.
In this special Thanksgiving edition of the SGO Wellness blog, we hear from three spouses and a mother of SGO members about life with a gynecologic oncologist in the family. We share these with you in gratitude this holiday season, in recognition of your dedication and in appreciation for you and your families. On behalf of the SGO Wellness Task Force, thank you for all that you do. The following are presented with the permission of both the author and the SGO member.
Caring for the caregiver: Supporting trainees during the complex journey toward gynecologic oncology | Erica Weston, MD, MHS
I accidentally went on a hike – a metaphor for my medical training. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a doctor, or specifically gyn oncologist, but rather I think about my path as a series of doors of opportunity that I walked through over the years, choosing to continue on this path that I find both challenging and immensely rewarding. The most difficult part of training for me is the limited time, and mental space for processing the challenges specific to caring for cancer patients and navigating the at times complex terrain of life as a medical trainee. The hiking metaphor was brought up during a Caring for the Caregiver session, a new support program incorporated into our fellowship curriculum.
Reflecting on an adverse outcome – perspectives from a trainer and a trainee
This past spring, I performed a case that resulted in an intraoperative death. I could write extensively about the details of the case, the intraoperative management, and the institutional debriefing. None of that detracts from the fact that while under my surgical care, a person died. It’s much more difficult to write about that.
Voices: 2020 Annual Meeting Co-chairs describe balancing act
How do you balance your professional and personal lives while being mindful of wellness? What happens when extra responsibilities are added to your already busy workload? The Wellness Taskforce asked Kenneth Kim, MD, and Kathleen Moore, MD, co-chairs of the SGO 2020 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer Program Committee, to provide a little insight into how they balance their busy lives while managing to stay well. Continue reading
The hazards of sleep deprivation | Marta Ann Crispens, MD, MBA, FACOG
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that within the constraints of an 80-hour work week, more flexible work hour restrictions for internal medicine residents that did not specify shift lengths or time off between shifts did not adversely affect 30-day mortality or other measures of patient safety.1 A randomized trial of surgical residents similarly found that less restrictive work hours was associated with non-inferior patient outcomes as compared to a more restrictive work hours policy.2 But what if this is the wrong question? Perhaps the question is not how to optimize the 80-hour week, but whether it is possible to reconcile the 80-hour week and 24-hour shifts with the realities of human physiology. Continue reading
Fitness into a Specialty | J. Brian Szender, MD, MPH
My residency graduation included the “yo-yo” awards. While this was actually short for “yo-yo, you got this,” whenever I see the plaque in my office now I can’t think help but about what an up-and-down ride my training was, both physically and emotionally. The physical rollercoaster is a major part of why I elected to join SGO’s Wellness Task Force. Between medical school, residency, and fellowship I managed to gain and lose more than 150 pounds, 20 to 30 pounds at a time. I suffered from the classic signs of poor fitness including:
Wellness Q and A with SGO President Warner K. Huh, MD
Warner K. Huh, MD, is the 51st President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO). Dr. Huh is a Professor, Vice Chair and Division Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). For this month’s SGO Wellness blog, Dr. Huh describes his favorite wellness activities and how he encourages others to take time for themselves.
Combating compassion fatigue | Kimberly E. Resnick, MD
“We have not been directly exposed to the trauma scene, but we hear the story told with such intensity, or we hear similar stories so often, or we have the gift and curse of extreme empathy and we suffer. We feel the feelings of our (patients)…Eventually, we lose a certain spark of optimism, humor and hope…We aren’t sick, but we aren’t ourselves.”
-C. Figley, 1995
That beseeching, fearful look. I know this look. These five faces that want answers, any answers—to the complicated scenario I just painted. I glance at my Apple watch. It’s 3:00. Shocked by what we found. Assumed that Ms. X had early stage endometrial cancer. Had to open due to findings. Stage 4 disease. It’s 3:05.
The case for a healthy night’s sleep | Shannon MacLaughlan David, MD
There is nothing more glorious than sleeping in on a weekend. I have always found lazy mornings to be luxurious, and it still baffles my family how I left that out of the equation when forging my career path toward gynecologic oncology. Despite my passion for a good night’s sleep, I function pretty well without it. Or so I thought. Turns out that getting less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis is associated with a ton of health issues, including, but not limited to, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart attack, stroke, depression and—wait for it–death. No wonder the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. So is every gyn onc doomed to a premature death?