Every Doctor: healthier doctors=healthier patients

Clinical Professor Leanne Rowe, Australian rural general practitioner and past Chairman of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, writes about her latest publication

My co-authors, Professor Michael Kidd, Dr Vihangi Abeygunawardana and I wrote the fully revised 2nd edition of Every Doctor because we believe that healthier doctors provide the highest standard of patient care – and find more joy in life and work.

Family medicine is a fantastic career. It can be a privilege to witness the courage of our patients, gain extraordinary insight into ordinary life, and develop bonds with colleagues who become lifelong friends across international borders. But we must also address the downside – general practitioners are continuing to confront and adapt to global and local public health crises, which are impacting on the mental and physical health of every community – and every doctor.

In Every Doctor, we are advocating for a transformational change in the way doctors protect their mental health; care for their colleagues, particularly early career doctors; and co-create a kinder, more humane work culture. Every doctor has the right to a safe workplace – a healthy work environment that protects doctors against burnout and mental injury, bullying, harassment, discrimination, racism, medicolegal issues and verbal and physical assaults. This is every doctor’s responsibility.

We all have more influence than realised to reform our health systems and workplaces through co-leadership with like-minded colleagues. For example, in the last few years of the pandemic, groups of dedicated family doctors banded together under the umbrellas of WONCA and National Colleges of General Practice and Family Medicine to drive health care innovation such as advances in digital technologies; expand telehealth provision; set up new services for isolated rural communities and war torn countries; rapidly establish vaccination centres; roll out new education and training programs; and provide strong advocacy on a very wide range of issues that impact on patient care. This healthcare activism must continue.

It’s also time for senior doctors to step up and provide more support to early career doctors. Young family doctors at the front line of health care should not have to learn about navigating career challenges “the hard way” through bitter experience. In recent times, the pandemic and other public health crises have resulted in loss of career progression, loss of certainty about the future, traumatic losses of patients, family members, friends and colleagues. In this environment, workplace mental injury including direct and vicarious trauma in doctors is under reported, under recognised and under treated. We can do so much more to care for our colleagues in these circumstances.
Every Doctor confronts all these challenges and provides practical solutions based on the wisdom of experienced doctors and the medical literature. Brimming with poignant and hopeful stories and quotes from many family doctors at all career stages, Every Doctor is a celebration of the growing global interconnectedness and the changing face of the medical profession.

Please consider gifting the new edition to a new colleague – but please read it first!
For more information:
There is a 20% discount with promo code ESA31

Clinical Professor Leanne Rowe, Australian rural general practitioner and past Chairman of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners