The wellbeing benefits of creativity for doctors

A doctor writing

The world of medicine can sometimes be a high-stress environment, where the stakes are high and the hours long. You may have days when you find yourself submerged in a sea of clinical protocols and patient care. After a long shift, the need to unwind is integral. There are many great ways to de-stress mediation, yoga, exercise, but one that is often overlooked is getting creative. A creative outlet offers numerous wellbeing benefits that can significantly enhance your personal and professional life.

“Poetry is an outlet for me during times of stress and a way to remember and document the happy times in my life.” Dr Patrice Baptiste told Medworld.

A respite from routine

While intellectually stimulating, medicine practice often follows a structured routine that leaves little room for personal expression. Engaging in creative activities provides a much-needed diversion, allowing you to leave your demanding role. Whether it's painting, writing, music, or any other form of artistic expression, creativity offers an escape, a way to detach from the pressures of the medical profession momentarily and get into a "flow" state where your analytical conscious mind steps aside, and your unconscious mind takes control.

Dr Dave Homewood took a locum year off, giving him the flexibility to work as a doctor and rediscover his love of music. He said of his experiences:

"Just having time to play music, which has always been something that I've loved, but it's something that, you know, the never-ending task of optimal patient care, which sufficiently eroded my personal time and space. And then I just didn't have time to prioritise it as I wanted. I sort of lost it a bit. And I think the thing for me that's been really exciting is I've been able to re-engage with that and reconnect and play more music."

Enhancing problem-solving skills

Creativity is not just an art; it's a way of thinking that could impact your approach to patient care. The process of creating something new, of thinking outside the box, fosters innovative thinking and problem-solving skills. This creative mindset can translate into clinical practice, enabling you to develop unique solutions to complex medical problems.

Emotional processing and expression

You may often be exposed to a wide range of emotions in your daily work, from the joy of a successful treatment to the despair of a patient's loss. Creative outlets provide a channel for expressing and processing these complex emotions. Writing, for instance, can be particularly therapeutic, offering a way to reflect on challenging experiences and articulate feelings that might be difficult to express otherwise.

“I've always enjoyed writing poetry, but during my medical training, it was kind of placed on one side, not as 'pressing' or urgent as working as a doctor! However, by neglecting it, I lost something that was very therapeutic to me.” Dr Patrice Baptiste

Social connectivity and understanding

Creativity often involves sharing one's work with others through exhibitions, performances, or publications. This sharing can foster a sense of community and connection, combating the isolation that sometimes accompanies the medical profession. Engaging with the creative works of others can promote empathy and a deeper understanding of diverse human experiences, enriching the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr Ed Rose is a Sydney-based doctor. He’s also one-half of the indie electronic duo HI MOTIVE. In an interview with Medworld, he said of his art:

"It’s really important for me. Growing up, I was always very passionate about the arts."

"In terms of keeping the music active, that’s always been easy because it’s a hobby that I really enjoy and it’s something I can earn money doing… so I’m hoping to do that, to turn it into something that’s more than a hobby."

Personal fulfilment and identity

In a profession defined by service to others, losing sight of your identity can happen. Creative pursuits can serve as a reminder of one's individuality and interests outside of medicine. They provide a sense of accomplishment and personal fulfilment distinct from professional achievements, contributing to a well-rounded sense of self.

“Have other interests in your life and keep time off in your week for other interests. I've always done that because you don't know what's ahead of you. I enjoy doing all sorts of other things. I'm a keen photographer. I've actually been a music producer, I’ve created a number of albums. I've written some books. I've done all sorts of things to keep myself amused and interested." Dr James Muecke told Medworld.

Creativity is an important aspect of wellbeing. It offers a reprieve from the demands of the medical field, enhances critical thinking, provides emotional relief, fosters social connections, and nurtures personal growth. As the medical community continues to recognise the importance of mental health and wellbeing among healthcare professionals, encouraging creative expression becomes not just beneficial but essential. You could discover balance, resilience, and a renewed passion for your lifesaving work by nurturing your creative side.

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Medrecruit Editorial Team
15 March 2024Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor