Sharon Ufberg, DC discusses professional satisfaction as it relates to integrative practitioners.

by Sharon Ufberg, DC

As integrative practitioners, do we achieve more professional satisfaction from our work than other health care practitioners? Are we able to create more rich and rewarding practices that set us apart from our more troubled traditional peers? Are many of us feeling more fulfillment in our work because we have recently shifted our emphasis within an existing career or began a new practice?

Last month I picked up a Newsweek magazine and read the article, “Doctors Who Kill Themselves” by David Noonan and have been haunted by the piece ever since. The staggering statistic that 300-400 physicians take their own lives each year—“roughly one per day”—a higher suicide rate than another other profession, left me reeling. The culprit that Noonan explores is untreated depression and the stigma amongst physicians of seeking appropriate treatment.

A documentary airing this month on PBS, “In the Shadows,” also explores the issues of depression and suicide and highlights one physician’s story of recovery. Dr. Sherwin ‘Shep’ Nuland has shared the experience in his book, Lost in America, where he describes his struggle and eventual treatment.

Scientists are hard at work trying to unveil the highly complex faces of depression that affect 20 million Americans each year. What are the triggers of this biological disorder that is enveloped in emotional responses and reactions? Is it stress or a cataclysmic loss of a loved one, early life trauma, poverty, or genetic predisposition?

The question I keep asking myself is why are so many doctors depressed? Are they all suffering from untreated clinical depression that is independent of their daily work? Or is the work itself riddled with challenges of a physical, emotional and spiritual nature?

As integrative practitioners, are we better tuned into the whole system dysfunction of depression and are more adept at providing early intervention for ourselves? Do we do a better job of self-nurturing than traditional practitioners? Perhaps we provide a greater focus on relationship-centered care, making the case that a dynamic, authentic healing communication occurs when the satisfaction, health and well-being of both patient and healthcare professional are considered.

As healers we spend much of our time taking care of others and teaching them the power of self-care. We must remember that we need to continually nurture our own minds, bodies and spirit so that we may more effectively manage our own full personal and professional lives.

Please answer this month’s poll question… How would you currently rate your level of professional satisfaction?

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