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First Do No Self HarmUnderstanding and Promoting Physician Stress Resilience$
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Charles Figley, Peter Huggard, and Charlotte Rees

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780195383263

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383263.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 December 2019

Anesthesiology

Anesthesiology

Personal Reflections

Chapter:
(p.331) 23 Anesthesiology
Source:
First Do No Self Harm
Author(s):

Robin Youngson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383263.003.0023

The author, who had created the very first anesthesiology clinic at his hospital, urged his surgical colleagues to send him their worst cases. One of these was Jessie, for whom surgery would be high risk. Although her religious beliefs prevented proper medical treatment, she explained that she would trust his skill and God’s compassion and guidance. “I revised my estimate of her chances of survival. This was a human spirit not yet ready to depart the world. We made our farewells and to my surprise I was able to put aside my fretful worrying to sleep soundly in preparation for the next day’s challenge.” This experience changed his perspective as a physician from conceiving the doctor-patient relationship as a one-way street, with the doctor in control, to the recognition that doctoring is a two-way process; that we are all vulnerable. Physicians are taught clinical detachment as a fundamental value in medical practice, but such detachment is often a defense mechanism to avoid the emotional cost of witnessing suffering and loss.

Keywords:   emotional skills, physician awareness, detachment, compassionate practice, patient-physician relationship, professional attitude, humor

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