Summer 2023

Take Care of Yourselves as Well as Your Patients

By Toni Clare Hogencamp MD

Dr. Hogencamp

It’s hard to believe that it has been three years since the world was permanently altered by COVID.  

For children, this altered their exposure to routine illness, and potentially their immune system/response to illnesses in the future.  For science, there have been increases in collaborative research, new mechanisms for vaccine delivery, and research into long COVID which may uncover causes of other protracted post-infectious illnesses. For healthcare workers this has changed their perspective on the balance between patient-care versus self-care and patient expectations versus employee satisfaction.  

While volumes and infectious disease patterns continue to normalize, burnout continues for all levels of providers and staff in healthcare.  

To combat my feelings of burnout while I’m at work I try to find joy in each interaction with a family.  We’re in pediatrics, make it fun!!  I enter each room with a smile and try to have at least one positive non-medical interaction – it may be about the child’s hair or clothing, asking about plans for the weekend or questions about school, or just being silly!.  The interaction can also be with the parent – sharing parenting moments or generational events.  

Smiles have been shown to not only improve your mood, but the mood of those around you.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize I should be having move fun at work – not just with my colleagues, but with my patients as well.

There are some things in pediatrics that are guaranteed – children will be born, they will become ill and injured, they and their parents will need urgent care pediatric specialists like you.  You are willing to be there when most families are having dinner or enjoying the beach on a weekend.  You are there to lend a hand, a shoulder or those extra few seconds to listen, to understand and to make a difference.  

While you continue to take care of your patients, remember to take care of yourselves while you’re not at work.  Go out, be active, get some fresh air, have fun, be silly, just like the kids we care for.

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Editors: Traci Downs-Bouchard MD FAAP and Haroon Shaukat MD FAAP

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