Originally published January 26, 2017
In the year it has taken for me to finish my medical residency as a junior doctor, two of my colleagues have killed themselves. I’ve read articles that refer to suicide amongst doctors as the profession’s “grubby little secret,” but I’d rather call it exactly how it is: the profession’s shameful and disgusting open secret.
Medical training has long had its culture rooted in ideals of suffering. Not so much for the patients — which is often sadly a given, but for the doctors training inside it. Every generation always looks down on the generation training after it — no one ever had it as hard as them, and thus deserve to suffer just as much, if not more. This dubious school of thought has long been acknowledged as standard practice. To be a good doctor, you must work harder, stay later, know more, and never falter. Weakness in medicine is a failing, and if you admit to struggling, the unspoken opinion (or often spoken) is that you simply couldn’t hack it.
In the cutthroat, often brutalizing culture of medical or surgical training many doctors stay stoically mute in the face of daily, soul destroying adversity; at the worst case, their loudest gesture is deafeningly silent — death by their own hand.
The blog post is here.