Many physicians will find this to be the most challenging activity of the five. After all, you don't get to be a practicing physician by prioritizing your own comfort or health.
The fact is that the path to practice is grueling, and being able to tolerate stress is an absolute requirement.
Eventually, though, stress adds up. No one can sprint through the pain forever. At some point, you have to think like a marathoner.
ALOE is designed to help. Let's see what ALOE can do:
Physicians know that burn out is a problem. They also know that one yoga class isn't going to fix it. Physicians know an effective intervention when they see one. That's why we asked them to help us design ours.
Dr. Carpenter is feeling run down. If one more person asks him to make a decision or complete a task, he's afraid he might snap. He withdraws into the doctor's lounge and puts his feet up. He opens up his institution's ALOE app and navigates to the ChatBot. As he knew it would, the ChatBot greets him by name with a cheery message, and is ready to just do what Dr. Carpenter says. Dr. Carpenter types, "fill my self-care bank". ChatBot responds, "Happily, Dr. Carpenter, let me pull up your current bank statement". Dr. Carpenter sees that it's been 10 days since he last logged some self-care, and that he's only banked 7 minutes in the last 4 weeks. He types, "I've got 15 minutes. What are my options?". ChatBot responds, "Here are some ideas, Dr. Carpenter. Would you like to go for a mindfulness walk, sit quietly, listen to a podcast, do a quick workout, or get hydrated?" Dr. Carpenter replies, "walk". ChatBot responds, "Excellent choice! Let's walk it out."
Over the next 15 minutes, Dr. Carpenter walks around the hospital, and is intermittently prompted to focus his attention on specific things. He spends 3 minutes just thinking about the way his feet feel when they grab the floor, then 4 minutes counting the colors he sees. By the time he finishes his 15 minutes, he's used all of his senses, slowed his breathing, and gotten his mind off medicine. ChatBot congratulates him: "Way to go, Dr. Carpenter! You just added 15 self-care minutes to your bank!"
He returns to the floor. He didn't put the chaos on mute, but the volume is back to a manageable level.
If you had to be in a speeding car pushing 80 MPH on winding mountain pass, would you rather be sitting in the back or in the driver's seat?
Yah, us too.
Physicians know that their work and lives can be crazy. In fact, many knew it would be that way when they signed up for this path. But it's a different thing entirely to be traveling fast down an unpredictable road without the ability to hit the brakes yourself.
That's why it is so critical that physicians have immediate access to the resources they need to get the support they need, when they need it.
Consider this example:
Dr. Shaw has been in her "new job" for over two years, and still hasn't found a primary care provider. She knows she's being hypocritical when she stresses the importance of preventive health to her patients, but she's just been so focused on her job that she never got around to getting herself a doctor.
She has decided that her hypocrisy ends today. Dr. Shaw opens up her institution's ALOE ChatBot and types "help me find a PCP". "Happy to, Melissa!", ChatBot responds. Dr. Shaw answers a few quick questions and then reviews the in-network options presented to her. She selects a practice nearby her house. She asks ChatBot for the phone number and makes the call.
Now that she's got the momentum, Dr. Shaw wonders if there's a good place to get a massage in her area. She asks ChatBot, who responds with some options. She selects one and books and appointment on line.
Finally, Dr. Shaw decides to look into the options her institution offers for mental health care. She asks ChatBot, who answers her questions about her organization's employee wellness services. ChatBot helps her send an electronic request for an intake appointment, without even leaving the app.
Dr. Shaw says goodbye to ChatBot and returns to her work feeling a sense of accomplishment.
At the risk of stating the obvious, humans are social creatures. We derive great pleasure from spending meaningful time with one another.
Many health care professionals find that it's particularly beneficial to spend time with other health care professionals - people who "get it". But, just like people in non-medical professions, it can be stifling to spend your free time exclusively with the people you interact with at work.
ALOE has a solution for that.
Dr. Macombe loves art history. She sometimes wonders what life would be like if she majored in art instead of chemistry. She is happy with her job, but she wants to keep that part of herself alive. She knows that she's more likely to keep up with a good habit if other people are involved. So, she logs on to her institution's ALOE platform and navigates to the all-physicians forum. She creates a post saying, "Are there any other docs out there who enjoy looking at art? I'd love to start a group that spends a couple of hours at a different local museum each month."
Two weeks later, a group consisting of a dermatologist, two family physicians, an ID specialist, an ENT, a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon, and Dr. Macombe meet for their first "Lunch and Look", during which they will visit a museum and discuss what they saw over lunch to follow.