"I have spent years in silence about my career decisions, nervous that my inability to take call and inability to thrive while sleep-deprived could be seen as weaknesses. Being afraid to admit I was advocating for my mental health and my life....
"I have spent years in silence about my career decisions, nervous that my inability to take call and inability to thrive while sleep-deprived could be seen as weaknesses. Being afraid to admit I was advocating for my mental health and my life. That’s a problem. I am experiencing fear for advocating for the health and safety of myself and others for concern that I may sound weak. That’s a big problem.
Silence is not the answer. Avoiding talking about it is not the answer. I cannot avoid call hard enough for prolonged sleep deprivation to be less of a problem for others. So let’s keep talking.
Physicians need sleep. The system needs to change. Many are not OK. I was one of them.
We need to normalize talking about the hard things and creating environments that promote psychological safety and the ability to truly ask for help, not censor our struggles in mental health appointments to save face.
And if you need to hear it: It’s OK to crave basic needs and advocate for them. You’re a human, not a robot; we need to create a system made for humans, not robots.
If you are having dark thoughts, please seek help. While the best time may have been days or months ago, the next best time is now."
Jillian Rigert is an oral medicine specialist and radiation oncology research fellow.
She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, "I risked my career to save my life."
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