Looking back, we encouraged you all to use 2019 as the ‘year of supporting yourself’. I wonder how that worked for you.  Did you take some time to reflect on the things that make you vulnerable: working in isolation, compassion fatigue and too many long work days?  Did you make any changes – big or small?

We hope you did, because suddenly 2020 is here and it could be a tough one.  The year has started with unprecedented devastation and tragedy around our country.  Some of you may have been personally touched by these events, but many more of you will feel the strain of living and working in communities that have been severely impacted.

What does that mean for you as a health professional?  In times of immense stress for your patients and the communities in which you live, the additional weight of caring and supporting others during, and post a crisis, brings additional concerns.

There are many resources available to you to use when caring and supporting others dealing with traumatic stress.  Beyond Blue and the RACGP are valuable sources of information on patient care.

However, what we would like to do, is remind you that it is paramount that you look after yourself during this time – you can’t give the best care when you don’t care for yourself.

The RACGP has also acknowledged that overloading of other’s traumatic experiences may take a toll on you.  Here are a few things the College suggests to watch out for:

Early indicators that you may be affected by the traumatic experiences of your patients may include:

  • Heightened response to the patient
  • Increased levels of arousal (sleep disturbance)
  • Avoidance (includes increased alcohol use).

To avoid being overwhelmed, you should consider:

  • Discussing distressing or difficult experiences with colleagues
  • Limiting your exposure to a tolerable level
  • Maintaining good general health with regular exercise, good nutrition and sleep habits
  • Seeking help if needed.

If you are concerned we recommend making an appointment with a GP if possible.  For those in rural and remote locations CRANAplus’ Bush Support Service is available.

Head to our website for more information about Doctors’ Health.

Other resources

  1. Beyond Blue

    View resources addressing bushfires and mental health.

  2. RACGP

    RACGP has excellent information on bushfire response for providing immediate and ongoing care.

  3. MIGA’s Doctors’ Health resources

    Your own health may be affected by the burden of these events. Visit our website to view additional resources.

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