Dr Sam Hazledine on changing the declaration and evolving the profession
*“I WILL ATTEND TO my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.” *
One sentence. Eighteen words. And I was elated to hear them.
It was October 14, 2017, and I was at the back of the conference room in Chicago. In front of me, the entire delegation of the World Medical Association was standing and, for the first time, saying these words in unison.
We’d done it.
It was a pivotal moment in the evolution of our profession; doctors standing shoulder to shoulder to make us better together.
It felt pretty surreal for the team and me, who had worked for years to add this amendment to the WMA Declaration of Geneva, the modern-day Hippocratic Oath.
Finally, as doctors, at the highest levels, we were acknowledging the importance of our health. Our profession was evolving.
A journey towards a healthy change
I don’t think any of us set out to change our profession. Personally, I just wanted to graduate med school and become a doctor.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realise this was no ordinary job. No amount of smarts or talent can prepare you or protect you.
I remember arriving home as an intern, shattered, with only one thought left in my head:
‘This is the hardest bloody thing I’ve ever done.’
Later, I would realise this moment would lead me to those eighteen words and our team creating Medworld.
Simply put, to do the superhuman job of a doctor, we must look after the human doing it.
There’s no job like it
Great doctors seem to possess an endless reserve of human kindness and compassion, in the face of untold challenges.
As Adam Kay says in his book This is going to hurt: The secret diaries of a junior doctor:
“The hours are terrible, the pay is terrible, the conditions are terrible; you’re underappreciated, unsupported, disrespected and frequently physically endangered. But there’s no better job in the world.”
“The difference is obviously the whole ‘life and death’ thing, which is what separates this job from all others, and makes it so unfathomable to people on the outside.”
We need to be honest about this because those endless reserves can run dry and lives literally depend on the well-being of doctors.
The birth of Medworld
We created Medworld with a simple idea: Doctors need to start doing a better job of looking after doctors.
Medworld exists for the well-being of the medical profession and every doctor in it. As a profession, we need to heal from within, to become better together.
We dedicate our lives to the well-being of others, and so often end up sacrificing our own in the process; and that's not noble, it's just reckless.
Doctor burnout is real. Its consequences are real too: depersonalisation, imposter syndrome, poor patient care, and strained personal lives.
We’re called ‘doctors’, but we’re fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands and wives. We need to remember that. We need to embrace that.
Looking after ourselves and the quality of our lives is an essential part of looking after the lives of everyone else in our community.
People in need; people who are hurt, people who need our help to heal. People who might be facing the most difficult and terrifying challenge in their lives. We’re their hope. We’re their guidance. We’re the hand they hold when all hope is lost. They are counting on us.
We all know this, we've seen this, we see it every day, and we know we need to evolve. We must do a better job of looking after each other.
Let’s be better together.