We've spoken about the idea of physician clones previously - referring to a system where we pick the most well-rounded and talented individuals to enter medicine, and then subject them to an assembly line type of medical care and inflexible medical training along the way, with the hope they'll become clones of an idealized physician. But we're all in fact unique individuals with our own personalized needs and desires for our medical careers. In a recent BMJ Opinion article, Staffing - The Single Biggest Threat to Medical Training, they astutely say: "Trainees with different circumstances require personalised approaches to supporting them through their training, rather than a one size fits all approach where trainees are just cogs in a machine."
Now obviously staffing is at the forefront here, and one would argue the limiting step towards customizing any work situation in an already squeezed industry, however, what's the alternative? Continuing to see trainees and physicians burning out, leaving medicine, or the very worst case scenario - killing themselves?
A recent blog post The Ugly Side of Becoming a Surgeon by a doctor named Miko, has sparked a lot of attention, and actually action at a local level. She opens with: "I never thought I would say this, but I broke. I give up. I am done. I surrender. I am handing back my dream of becoming a surgeon. I have nothing left to give. I don’t want it anymore. I’ve lost my ambition. I’ve lost my spark."
It's a very detailed and harrowing account of her medical journey ending with her resigning. This isn't just a story about understaffing and extreme overwork; it's a story all too common where the human behind the stethoscope doesn't feel like the human they once were or deserve to be. All sense of control and autonomy are stripped away.
Ultimately, this one-size-fits-all approach is just not cutting it in today's medical workforce - period. Alternative solutions for individual people are what's going to keep the motor running in both medicine and other industries. Although some pushback exists on customizing our work as physicians, who can argue that it will lead to less burnout, better retention, greater overall satisfaction and enhanced meaning in our work?
We fail to see the problem with this approach. Yes, staffing may be a significant issue, and it might require more time and energy from the powers that be, but if the alternative is that people are leaving medicine, it can't be used as a reason to not figure out solutions.
"Everything is figureoutable." ~ Marie Forleo