COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE TO THE RESCUE OF MEDICAL STAFF!

It is weel known that Quebec medical staff presents a high depression and suicide rate. A recent statistic1 shows that 45.7% of Quebec physicians have symptoms of burnout and that 62% of them believe they're overworked. As for nurses, most of whom are obligated to accept to work overtime, the last decade showed an increase in the number of work stoppages for psychological issues2. Is this situation not alarming, i.e. that the main actors of our healthcare system are more ill than the population they care of?

In a conference3 regarding physicians' well-being in February 2014 in Eastman, meditation techniques were taught, such as yoga, to better face psychological difficulties in the profession. Does this not demonstrate that the medical staff is currently in a great need for ressources and tools to better manage stress and burnout symptoms?

Consequently, the main remedy to resolve this serious problem is to turn to complementary medicine, i.e. psychology, acupuncture, osteopathy, massage therapy and others, such as breathing and meditation techniques. These approaches are said to possibly bring better emotional health and a certain relief of physician' distress. However, to achieve this, physicians need to show openness towards these approaches.

Is it not ironic that the remedy that would allow physicians to deal with psycholo- gical issues is the same element which currently causes a lot of resistance in the medical community? In other words, the key for physicians to be in better emotional health would be in greater use of complementary approaches, exactly where the medical staff shows a lack of openess.

One of the difficulties in opening up to complementary approaches is that they require a different way of thinking. The solutions to the patients' physical and psychological problems are not necessarily only in the rational approach of modern medicine, but rather in a range of approaches. This way, decisions on a therapeutic level are not taken according to only one expertise, but they also take into consideration other possible forms of treatments.

A change of attitude is then advisable, i.e. to acknowledge that the rational approach of modern medicine does not necessarily have all the answers, and then consider other approaches as part of the solution. The idea, in fact, is to think in terms of team work and not only to work in solo. This would require the medical world to get out of its own bubble to better perceive that human beings do not have only a physical component, but that they also have emotional and energetic elements.

Physicians and nurses, throught their central position in our healthcare system, could then show the way to a greater well-being by having more openness towards complementary approaches, first for their own health, but also for the health of those who consult with them. Is it not by taking good care of oneself that we can better take care of others?

Martin Moisan, M.D.
Kanesatake Health Center
12, Joseph Swan
Kanesatake (Québec)
J0N-1E0

1. Statistics published by the Collège des médecins du Québec
2. Gazette des femmes, Du dévouement à l'épuisement (From dedication to exhaustion), Hélène Sarrasin, 2009
http://www.gazettedesfemmes.ca/dossier/27/
3. Conference organized by the Association des médecins francophones du Canada, l'Actualité Médicale magazine, August 6, 2014.

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