Welcome to a new series from Doctors Manitoba about thriving in medicine. Whether it’s about improving the culture in medicine, breaking down the systemic barriers that cause burnout, or helping physicians individually, this series will offer expert perspectives and evidence-based information.

Our medical community, from first-year medical learners through to retirees, includes people from all walks of life and backgrounds, bringing with them the wisdom of their lived experience to create a rich tapestry, woven together. It is a thing of both beauty and strength.

In my role at Doctors Manitoba, I hear a number of stories where a physician or medical learner has been embraced and supported by their colleagues, mentors, and leadership in times of crisis, loss, or illness. We can and do come together when there is need.

Oftentimes though that need is not visible, and people can carry a significant burden with them, unseen by even those closest to them.

This video from Stanford Wellness portrays this truth well…

I am Human. As are you.

And that is a truth to be celebrated. After all, it is our humanity that we bring to each clinical encounter, to our exchanges with families and colleagues. It is what brought us to this career in the first place. And it is what lies beyond that same career, beyond the clinic and hospital walls.

As physicians and lifelong learners, we bear the weight of others’ and our own expectations to be the best, work hard, make sacrifices and dedicate ourselves fully to our patients and careers, while also somehow finding room for our own health, relationships and commitments with family and friends… our very humanity.

Dr. Tait Shanafelt, chief wellness officer at Stanford Medicine and leading researcher in physician well-being, has identified aspects of our own medical culture as being key to professional fulfillment and prevention of burnout.

And integral to that medical culture is community.

We hear from you, our members, the need for a shift toward a culture of caring, finding ways to embrace the very core of our common humanity… the values of shared experience, mutual support, community, and connection.

In our work here at Doctors Manitoba, as part of Doc360 Physician Health and other initiatives, we are doing many things to foster and nurture that humanity and community via peer support initiatives, advancing equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization (EDID), learner-specific advocacy and more that we’d like to share with you throughout this series.

The healthcare systems in which we work and learn must be improved. That goes without question. But when so much can seem beyond our control, it’s important to remember that we can effect change within our own culture and community. It belongs to us. And it can be both empowering and transformative to gently question, to learn from one another, keeping the conversation going as we find our way toward a healthier place of being…a culture of wellness and community of caring, not only for our patients but for ourselves and for each other.

All the while acknowledging and accepting these simplest of truths…

I am Human.

We are Human.

It will be together that we find the most strength.