Welcome to the College - Page 17

The Practice Guide C. TO THEMSELVES AND COLLEAGUES Principles of Practice The practice of medicine is challenging. Physicians are expected by the profession and the public to meet high standards for excellence in the care they provide to patients. In addition, physicians often face competing demands — from patients, other health care professionals, the health care system, and from the expectations the physician holds for him or herself. These factors can give rise to stress, fatigue, exhaustion and frustration, which can have an impact on both the physician personally and the care the physician is able to provide to his or her patients. Physicians, as a group, should provide mentorship, support and care to one another, in order to ensure their patients receive quality care, as well as to maintain their own personal wellness. Duties 1. Mentorship Physicians should be prepared to provide to colleagues, and accept from colleagues, both formal and informal mentorship. Mentorship involves the sharing of knowledge, experience and ideals, and allows physicians the opportunity to obtain advice and support in their various physician roles. As mentors, physicians should lead by example. Mentorship is also an informal mechanism for maintaining the high expectations and standards of the profession. 2. Wellness Physician wellness is a critical component of the professional practice of medicine. Wellness is defined as the condition of good physical and mental health necessary to provide high quality care to patients and to fulfill the duties noted above. Because physicians cannot serve their own patients if they are not well, physicians may have to put their own needs for wellness ahead of the needs of individual patients or the public as a whole in some circumstances. Physician wellness is also important for its own sake, independent of any responsibility to others. Physicians should only care for patients when they are well enough to do so. In order to ensure that patients receive high quality care, physicians have a responsibility to: • be aware of their own health, which includes being able to recognize when they are not well enough to provide competent care; • obtain help, if necessary, from colleagues, their own physician, or other supports, in order to ensure their own wellness; • adjust their practice, as necessary, to ensure that patients can and do receive appropriate care. The best interests of patients are served when physicians take time to meet their own needs and are continually aware of their own wellness. This means recognizing limits imposed by fatigue, stress or illness and taking care to ensure a healthy work-life balance. This is not always easy. Physicians set high expectations for themselves and may not immediately recognize either transient or longer term periods of incapacity. Recognition of transient incapacity is particularly difficult. In leading by example for patients and colleagues, physicians should avoid self-treatment. Instead, physicians should try to establish a relationship as a patient with another physician they trust for care and should seek advice about their own care from that physician. Welcome to the College – May 2016 17