Scientific Article
Healing Physicians

Lisa J. Merlo, PhD, MPE
Merlo LJ. Healing Physicians. JAMA. 2016;316(23):2489-2490. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.10339
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A Piece of My Mind

Healing Physicians

Lisa J. Merlo writes of “conspiracy of silence” among physicians that keep those suffering from addiction hidden – which leads worsening the disease and inhibits physicians in recovery from sharing their stories.

The time has come to finally and emphatically demand that physicians deserve humane expectations in training and practice and have a right to opportunities for self-care. Taking appropriate breaks or vacations, spending time in mindful meditation, completing self-help interventions,8 sharing personal/professional struggles with colleagues, and seeking necessary medical and mental health treatment should be viewed as a marker of professionalism, not a sign of weakness. As more physicians share their personal stories of recovery from psychiatric, psychological, and substance use disorders, the stigma will begin to lift. As more educators and supervisors support physicians who seek appropriate care at the first signs of burnout, much anguish and despair will be avoided. As policies are changed to allow physicians to confidentially obtain the mental health care they need, patient care will improve, and physician quality of life may be restored.”

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