Dr. Daniel Dodek is passionate about physician wellness. Many patients in his family practice are fellow physicians and he sees the stress they are under as well as how the demands of our health care system have increased over the years. He’s personally experienced professional burnout and knows how difficult it can be to have conversations about mental wellness with peers. To help physicians be as physically, mentally, and emotionally fit as possible, Dr. Dodek is now curating a Physician Wellness webpage on the Vancouver Division of Family Practice’s website.
“It gives me great satisfaction to try to help my colleagues,” said Dr. Dodek. “If they are healthier, it’s better for them, their families, and their patients. I know what it’s like to be unwell and I’ve developed strategies for preventing that including exercise, mindfulness, and getting enough sleep. I also keep a daily gratitude journal… even writing down small things that you feel grateful for can help train you to see the world in a positive light.”
The webpage he has developed is intended to be dynamic. A recent addition is Behind the Stethoscope, a podcast developed by physicians at Royal Columbian Hospital that addresses burnout. Dr. Dodek reads lots of books and articles about wellness and lists some of these on the site. Recent favourites include The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha and Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity by Ronald Epstein.
Dr. Dodek notes that physicians often won’t give themselves permission to take time for themselves.
“It’s important to take time out to exercise and follow a passion outside of medicine,” he said. “Connecting with other people—beyond patients—is also important. Taking time for family and connecting socially with your friends is helpful and healthy. I also think it’s important to give yourself permission to say no to some professional commitments. You may feel guilty, but it can also be empowering and will leave you with more energy to do those other things you’d like to try.”
Photo: Dr. Daniel Dodek with his son. Dr. Dodek emphasizes the importance of spending time with family and friends as ways of staying well.