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Doctors devote their lives to patients, but what about themselves? What happens when a doctor needs help, or simply needs to talk to someone? Often the people you feel comfortable talking to, like friends and loved ones, simply can’t relate to the complexities of life as a doctor.
Sara is a member of the peer support team at the BMA. The team, as part of the BMA’s wellbeing support services, is on hand to provide emotional and empathetic advice and support to doctors and medical students.
Asked about her work within the team, Sara says:
‘My experience, following a number of events, was that doctors have particular difficulty seeking support and help. I became aware of the BMA service at a conference and thought I may be able to contribute to the work supporting colleagues.
‘It provides complete confidentiality and is easy to access; the free service allows all doctors and medical students the opportunity to speak to colleagues working on a voluntary basis. The team is a mixture of doctors from a variety of backgrounds and specialties. We have regular training together and support each other, and through this I have met some great colleagues and made new friends.
‘My work within the BMA peer support team both saddens and inspires me. It is disappointing to come across the same issues related to lack of support and an absence of a culture of wellbeing in the workplace. Hearing stories from distressed doctors who often – after extended periods of time – have finally come to the decision that they need to leave their role in medicine in order to remain well, happens too frequently.
‘However, many colleagues – despite these challenges – find a way through. They will reflect on options, take some time out to care for themselves and often return to work in a slightly different role but one that works for them. Many invest a significant amount of time working through personal and professional challenges and develop new insight and enthusiasm.
‘It is humbling to work with colleagues in this way. It is wonderful to hear from them months later when they are working in a way that they love and where they are thriving.’
The team is currently looking for new doctors to join the service. If you’re interested in providing emotional support to fellow doctors and giving back to the profession, we want to hear from you.
Find out more and apply online
Rebecca Walters is a member of the BMA Content and Audience team