May is Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month – a time to focus on reducing the stigma associated with mental illness while also prioritizing strategies for improving and stabilizing mental health. And as a CME provider for thousands of health care professionals, we know that mental health should be a daily practice, year-round. We’ve made it part of our curriculum since our founding, with On-Demand programming as well as dedicated days at our on-site CME Conference locations.
But as healthcare professionals, we were curious to know how you work to present yourself as steady, caring, and compassionate – whether it’s your first patient of the day or your last. What strategies do you use to lift yourself up when a day feels impossibly hard? We talked with several of our stellar speakers to hear their tips, and the strategies they shared just might help you mindfully take a moment to reset yourself before seeing patients as well as remind yourself that your successes far outweigh any failures.
Melissa Rodriguez, DMSC, PA-C, a clinically practicing physician assistant in obstetrics and gynecology, turns to the very essence of professionalism as she focuses her attention on patient’s needs without judgment or malice: “We are experts in our field and can help guide patients through their medical or surgical conditions, and our compassion is what will make their experience better. I really take a moment to focus and leave any baggage at the door before I step inside the examining room. And once home, my focus is on my children, family, and extracurricular activities. I have to compartmentalize.”
Jennifer Carlquist-Reed, PA-C, ER CAQ, who works in ER and cardiology, takes a similar tack, knowing that her patient is her number-one priority at that moment. “That centers me before I walk into the room. I imagine they’re a family member, who trust me and for whom I owe my A-game.”
“It’s hard to do some days,” admits Terri Nagy, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, a physician assistant in a dermatology practice. “But before I enter any room, I briefly and take a deep breath. That helps me walk in focused, relaxed, and ready to conquer whatever concern the patient presents. Each patient needs to feel as if their concern is my onlyconcern at that moment in time.”
For those needing self-care strategies, Christopher Hemmer, DNP, ANP-BC, ONP-C, FAANP, a nurse practitioner in orthopedics, adds, “We all have cases that can be emotionally draining, and some days can be especially hard, like losing a patient or having to give bad news to a long-time patient. It never gets easy,” he told us. “To help, I keep a drawer with nothing but the letters, cards, and thank you notes that I’ve received over the years. Nothing goes into that drawer but that, and I take them out and read some of them from time to time. Secondly, think about your top 10 foul balls, screw-ups, or missed opportunities. Then think about the top five people you saved, helped or turned their life around … odds are good that there are a lot more of those who you helped. We tend to concentrate on our failures, not our successes. This can really help balance you.”
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Looking for mental-health related CME? Be sure to check out our On-demand Mental Health CME and our Live 2023 CME conferences that include pharmaceutical focus in Myrtle Beach, Pensacola Beach, Orlando and Las Vegas. Or, interested in more tips for work-life balance? Check out our blog from January on this very topic!