Managing your own wellbeing as a healthcare practitioner
Practitioners’ wellbeing has a significant impact on healthcare outcomes and it significantly impacts patient care and satisfaction, adherence to treatment and the interpersonal aspects of care.
The Medical Board through its code of conduct, has set out specific expectations about how you should monitor your wellbeing.
AHPRA Code of conduct
11.2 Your health
Good medical practice involves:
- 11.2.1 Having a general practitioner.
- 11.2.2 Seeking independent, objective advice when you need medical care, and being aware of the risks of self-diagnosis and self-treatment.
- 11.2.3 Seeking help if you are suffering stress, burnout, anxiety or depression.
- 11.2.4 Making sure that you are immunised against relevant communicable diseases.
- 11.2.5 Not self-prescribing.
- 11.2.6 Recognising the impact of fatigue on your health and your ability to care for patients, and endeavouring to work safe hours wherever possible.
- 11.2.7 Being aware of the doctors’ health program in your state or territory which provides confidential advice and support through the doctors’ health advisory and referral services.
- 11.2.8 If you know or suspect that you have a health condition or impairment that could adversely affect your judgement, performance or your patient’s health:
- not relying on your own assessment of the risk you pose to patients
- consulting your doctor about whether, and in what ways, you may need to modify your practice, and following the doctor’s advice
Why your wellbeing is so important
- If unwell, you can’t perform to your optimum which may compromise the health outcomes of your patients
- Being unwell may cause patient harm and potentially be highly detrimental to your career
- The community, hospital, medical colleges,employers, media all have very high expectations of your conduct
- AHPRA in its code of conduct, has set out specific obligations in relation to your welfare
- Maintaining wellbeing provides your best chance to maintain and advance your career chances
Common issues that can affect wellbeing and put patients at risk
- Studies have shown a prevalence of psychiatric morbidity during Medical School final year which can increase significantly during internship, (up to 70% meeting criteria for psychiatric disturbance at least once )
- Smoking, use of illegal substances
- Experience of bullying or harassment
- Lack of time, fatigue, work overload/demands
- Self- prescribing, inappropriate medications. Employment related disputes
Strategies to consider
- Follow employment protocols, expectations and employment contractual conditions
- Be mindful of Work, Health & Safety laws and other employment requirements regarding appropriate behaviour
- Keep in mind AHPRAs Code of Conduct expectations
- Join an MDO (eg MIPS) and/or a professional association such as a college or AMA for advice/assistance
Strategies to look after your wellbeing
- Familiarise yourself with Good Medical Practice code
- Have a GP – do not self-treat or self-prescribe
- With problematic patients or colleagues, take prompt action, do not let matters escalate
- Be honest & ethical to yourself & patients
- Deal with emerging health or impairment issues promptly, do not delay
- Maintain an appropriate work life balance
- Build and maintain a support and mentor network