DOCTALK 2022 - Volume 9 Issue 1
 March 2022

By Brenda Senger, Physician Health Program Director, Saskatchewan Medical Association

12 Steps for Medical Professionals

Throughout my years in this career, I have come across many documents which I squirrel away.  Given the pressures that physicians have endured over the last 2 years, I remembered this hand-out and thought that it could be helpful to reframe how we define ourselves and provide permission for self-care and support.  

(as taught in medical training)  
(who seek re-humanizing)* 
1. We learned that we could handle anything perfectly as Medical Professionals, that we had total control. 
   1. We admitted difficulty living as a medical professional only, that our problems arise from this single focus in life. 
2. We came to believe that there is no greater calling than to be a Medical Professional, that we ARE what we DO.
   2. We came to believe that accepting help and support from everything life has to offer could restore our physical, mental, social and spiritual health. 
3. We made a firm decision to live our lives as consummate Medical Professionals, resisting the need for self-care and the influence of anything outside of our careers.
   3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our fellows who have learned these lessons and a Higher Power as we understand one.
4. We made a searching and thorough inventory of all medical knowledge, committing it to memory for all time.
   4. We made a searching and fearless personal inventory of our problems, strengths, goals and dreams. 
5. We recognized that our discomforts are the fault of people, places and things outside of us, that professional failing and weakness of character are inappropriate for a Medical Professional.
   5. We shared our list with trusted others, acknowledging our character weaknesses, virtues and humanity.
6. We were entirely ready to deny our own negative feelings, doubts and misgivings. 
   6. We were entirely ready to accept the help available to address our basic human needs.
7. We never let our mistakes, fear or feelings of inadequacy show. 
   7. With humility and an open mind we sought to correct the shortcomings in our lives. 
8. We made a list of all people and institutions which upset us and harboured resentments towards them all. 
   8. We made a list of all persons and institutions we resented and became willing to address these issues.
9. We refused to take action to resolve these tensions, but tried to get even whenever we could. 
   9. We made direct amends where necessary and took any action required to relieve these tensions, except when doing so would harm others.
10. We continued to act as though everything was fine, always maintaining the correct appearance of a Medical Professional.
  10. We continued to monitor internal feelings and needs promptly admitting when we had a problem. 
11. We diligently refused to accept new ideas, seeking only to live life on our own terms, as we feel entitled to.
  11. We remained open and responsive to help, guidance and love we can receive from others who care about us.
12.Having rigidly clung to our original attitudes and practices, we continue to recommend them to other Medical Professionals, joining together in our misery for the rest of our practising lives.
  12. Having achieved personal revitalization as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to the others in our lives, and to practise these principles in all our affairs.

Source of "handout":

  Stress is inevitable. Struggling is optional.

If you are a physician struggling with mental health concerns, please know there is a safe, confidential place for you to contact.

Call the Physician Health Program at the Saskatchewan Medical Association.

Brenda Senger
  Jessica Richardson
Clinical Coordinator (Regina/South)