Oral Presentation Medical Parents of Australia & New Zealand: Art of Balance 2018

Look after YOUR NUTRITION - Nutrition and self-care for modern medical parents (50280)

Lyndal Parker-Newlyn 1
  1. University of Wollongong, Nowra, ACT, Australia

Physicians have traditionally neglected their own health in favour of their many professional and personal obligations. The culture of medicine promotes the belief that physicians are never ill; doctors are typically very independent, competitive, and high achieving, and they often view attention to their own needs as a sign of weakness.” (Wiskar 2012). Combine these traits with the stress, responsibility and workload of caring for children and many medical parents end up putting their own health needs well after those of their patients, partners and children.

Despite high levels of knowledge among the medical community, many of us still engage in unhealthy behaviour, struggle with our weight, don’t do enough exercise or care for our own mental health (Hamidi et al 2016). Some patients expect us to be role models (sometimes unfairly so) and some colleagues can show even harsher judgement in reminding physicians to “heal thyselves”. But while we may intellectually “know” what to do, how do we personally wrestle our health back? How do we apply SNAP guidelines to ourselves and make positive health changes in busy working lives?

In this presentation, my personal experience of gaining health and losing weight will be used to illustrate how simple nutritional and motivational strategies can be applied in busy lives. Healthy eating does not have to be complex, restrictive or expensive; physical activity does not have to involve sparkly leotards (hooray!) and we can all improve our health by putting ourselves first. If we understand these principles, we can help our patients. But if we don’t start caring for ourselves properly first, then how are we going to care for everybody else?

  1. Hamidi MS, Boggild MK, Cheung AM. 2016. Running on empty: a review of nutrition and physicians’ well-being. Postgrad Med J. 92:1090 Wiskar K. 2012. Physician health: A review of lifestyle behaviors and preventive health care among physicians. BCMJ 54:8