Working in medicine we must have friends. In one specific way, the practice of medicine parallels fields such as law enforcement and firefighting – via trauma. Specifically, not the trauma our patients have incurred, but the trauma that is placed upon us when we support them. To prepare mentally for this endeavor I believe I will need close friends through life. Subsequently, I must submit to that fact that I cannot use my husband to work through all the trauma I encounter at work. Through our own therapy sessions, I have learned that I must have individuals other than my loved ones that I confide in and utilize for support. My loving husband is always there for me, but I have seen that I cannot dump all my trauma and requirements onto one person. Physically, I believe in the act of, “putting my own mask on first before helping others.” Staying physically active through running and biking will allow me to handle the rigorous schedules of hospital work. Similarly, staying physically active will also help keep a clear mind and reduce my own anxiety that I struggle with.
Trauma can have lasting and difficult effects on us when we work in medicine. Mental health expert John Delony discusses how having friends outside of your field can have many benefits to our mental well-being. Firstly, it allows an escape from the often-overwhelming nature of what we see and handle in medicine. By having friends outside of medicine, we may take a pause from our daily experience and gain new perspectives from others. I have already made numerous friends in my Diagnostic Medical Sonography program and can see how the dynamic between us is one of predominantly discussing medicine and sonography! So much research has come out about the effects of cumulative trauma that demonstrate we have not put enough emphasis on understanding and healing from it. In the healthcare profession, trauma is all around us. I believe that our jobs may have compounding and often insidious effects on each of us over time. By spending time with friends of mine outside of medicine, it allows me time to breathe, discuss and often laugh at other topics of conversation – all which allow healing from trauma.
The act of running and bicycling has cascading benefits that I perceive daily in my work and private life. The act of moving my body and being outdoors is what fills me with excitement, energy and a positive outlook on life. By being whole, I believe I may provide the utmost care to my patients. In a previous career I spent over a decade in customer service. I pride myself on bringing my range of skills that I learned from those jobs to my customer care with each patient I see. To bring joy and a sliver of peace to those in often difficult times in their life – I must first be at peace and have joy myself. I see that ability firstly coming from within, and primarily starting with physical exercise. Subsequently, I will be able to tackle the physical aspects of moving about a hospital during long shifts and pushing my ultrasound machine. I believe to have a positive impact on my patients, I cannot be tired and out of breath upon reaching them in their room. Patient care first starts with my own care!
When my father, Derrell Jordan, was terminally ill with brain cancer, I learned the importance of the simple things I have described above. But these simple things became the foundation for me to handle the pain and grief I was exposed to and continue to handle. As healthcare providers, it is easy for us to forget about our own health. We are so deeply empathetic. To perform lifesaving techniques and provide our patients with the care they need and deserve, we must firstly care for ourselves. Through time with friends, both inside and outside medicine I find support, joy and resolve. My friends outside of medicine provide me with time to unwind and put my mind to other situations and times. By investing time in myself through daily running and biking, I provide my mind vital endorphins and chemicals that boost my mood and mental acuity. Ultimately, I truly believe for us as healthcare professionals to provide the care our patients need from us, we must first find the time to care for ourselves and for one another through social and physical activity.