Why It’s Important to Thrive and Not Just Survive

We Spend a significant amount of time as doctors monitoring for adverse outcomes. 

We use the absence of disease as an indicator of health. 

But the mere absence of disease is not enough to proclaim good health. 

If we only monitor for the absence of disease, we miss the things that are most important in our patients’ daily lives. 

The things I’ve found to be most important in my life, and often lacking in my patient’s lives are…

Being happy, having a sense of purpose and meaning, and having good relationships which are sometimes ignored if overt signs and symptoms of disease are not present. 

Being “well” is a state of complete mental, physical, and social wellbeing. 

Having a purpose in life is associated with reduced mortality risk, so is life satisfaction. Things like loneliness and social isolation are associated with increased mortality.

When these needs are met people not only live longer but they live with intention. 

Let’s Look beyond the absence disease 

Did I choose the Wrong Specialty?

Oh, wait a minute I love everything about my work. In fact, I spend a great deal of time doing things outside of clinical practice related to psychiatry. Things like writing on this blog. I love doing therapy and even started psychoanalytic training. I even like being able to prescribe medications and have done enough clinical work and reading to know they are effective. Basically, this seems like the right place for me, to think I initially thought I wanted to be a surgeon. 

When I entered college, I treated it like high school and never thought medicine had a place for me. I was actually in training to be a police officer and figured that would be a good enough life. I started in community college and by chance took an introductory biology course with a professor who I clicked with right away. As I moved on from the community college setting, I knew I had to decide, did I want to do basic science research, or was I going to continue on the premedical path with intentions of being a doctor. This was all very shocking for me, a person who barely graduated high school, and scored almost as low as you can on the SAT. I really did not understand anything about getting into medical school, and after transferring to a small college near my hometown that lacked a true premedical curriculum, I was defiantly at a disadvantage. I then dabbled in the possibility of studying naturopathic medicine but was convinced by my research supervisor that a traditional medical school would offer me more opportunities and I could still do many of the lifestyle medicine things I wanted to. Given my lack of understanding about building a medical school application, I did not get any offers to attend a U.S. MD program. At least I had gained acceptance to St. George’s University, and I was determined to prove every U.S. school wrong about their assessment of my abilities. 

I honestly had no idea psychiatry would be my choice of specialty. In the whole 2 weeks of teaching, I received in the first two years of medical school about the subject, it did not seem very appealing. However, I was sold after my third-year clerkship in psychiatry and have since dedicated my life to the field. 

So, what does all this have to do with making the wrong choice? Well, if you truly understand psychiatry you will know that what passes as psychiatric care these days is far from ideal. I never thought the majority of my time would be reviewing screening scales, asking about side effects of medication, and writing notes mostly filled with legal jargon. I feel like I’m longing for the good old days when you could spend an hour with a patient and really understand what the problem is. Sometimes I feel stuck in this situation, but I always remember I could have been a surgeon. 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: