Inside Doctoring: Stages and Outcomes in the Professional Development of Physicians

By Robert H. Coombs; D. Scott May et al. | Go to book overview

5
Compleat Physicians: Balancing Hands, Head, and Heart

If physician impairement is to be understood, it's opposite must also be recognized. "Compleat Physicians," with the old English spelling for emphasis, is the name we give physicians who, in contrast to their impaired colleagues, maintain a healthy balance between work and other life aspects. They are well-balanced and healthy.

"The longer I live," observed Oliver Wendell Holmes, "the more I am satisfied of two things: first, that the truest lives are those that are cut rose-diamond fashion, with many faces answering to the many-planed aspects of the world about them; secondly, that society is always trying in some way or other to grind us down to a single flat surface. It is hard work to resist this grinding down action."

Compleat physicians have resisted this grinding down process by balancing their careers with other life activities. They have successfully avoided being swept along by social forces that promote excessive career involvement at the expense of personal and familial well-being. By thoughtfully setting personal goals in a variety of life domains, these physicians have become well-rounded. In addition to career involvements, their time and energy has been devoted to activities that promote physical and emotional fitness, spiritual and cultural sensitivity, and social and familial vitality. Such doctors are at ease in social settings where medicine is not the primary topic of conversation.

"Impaired doctors" and "compleat physicians" are, of course, ideal types. In reality, few physicians actually fit either of these extreme descriptions; most vary in degrees on a continuum between

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