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Wellbeing Week for doctors and dentists

From Monday 21 to Friday 25 October, UH Bristol is holding a Wellbeing Week for doctors and dentists. In a recent doctors' wellbeing survey, one of the themes that emerged was the need for doctors to spend more time with colleagues away from clinical areas, to help build relationships. 

Rachel McCoubrie is the lead consultant for wellbeing for doctors and dentists. Here she writes openly about her own experiences dealing with her mental wellbeing.

"I'm writing this in the interest of saying: 'It's okay not to be okay.'

I got a lovely text from a colleague last week saying, 'Who gets to look after Dr Wellbeing when Dr Wellbeing is unwell?'

How timely…

Some people may consider this oversharing. That's okay. You don't have to read on. For me, this is about acknowledging doctors are human, that we get ill too, and that mentally it can be hard when that happens.

Having had Crohn's disease for decades, in June this year, I had 25cm of strictured small bowel resected, hoping this would put an end to my repeated episodes of small bowel obstruction. I didn't relish the thought of surgery. But on balance, it seemed like the right thing to do.

I don't enjoy being out of action, and the post-operative recovery was longer and more painful than I had anticipated, but I got through it. Two months later, I was delighted to have a normal calprotectin level for the first time ever. Job done, or so I thought.

Less than four months later, I was back in bowel obstruction. The pain, bloating and vomiting were all too familiar, but this time I faced added mental struggle at the injustice of it all. This wasn't supposed to happen. I had just taken drastic measures to prevent it.

Thankfully, after a brief stay in our fabulous surgical and trauma assessment unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), things started to settle.

I was especially keen to get back to work because I am running a wellbeing week for doctors and dentists from Monday 21 - Friday 25 October.

There are a variety of events every day, to help us to take a moment to recharge, refresh, relax, bond with colleagues and learn about self-care.

This is so important to me. Doctors and dentists work very long hours and can feel emotionally exhausted. We are looking at ways we can improve the working environment and the culture, so that staff feel valued and supported. Being healthy and happy at work is essential.

I'm not naive enough to think that a wellbeing week will 'fix' things. But it may help to lift the spirits and allow us all time to connect with colleagues away from the ward, to try a new activity, to laugh, to breathe. It also gives us a chance to stop and reflect, even if it's just for a few minutes.

So, 'Dr Wellbeing' is hoping to be a well doctor again, and hoping that wellbeing week will be a storming success, so that we can repeat it in the months and years to come."

From Monday 21 - Friday 25 October, in the Education Centre, there will be a variety of activities, including:     

  • 08:00-08:45 Relaxing activitiessuch as yoga, mindfulness, tai chi. Breakfast refreshments will be provided from 07:45
  • 17:00-19:00  Energising activities such as laughter yoga, self-defence training, a music recital, Bollywood dancing and a Mess payday party. Refreshments will be provided from 17:00.
  • All day on Wednesday 23 October, there will be workshops and events in the Education Centre, such as stress management, sleep and fatigue, poetry class, and a Tea and Empathy launch with a music recital.

Staff can find the full programme on Connect.

 Rachel _780x 715

Rachel McCoubrie