Christine Sinsky, M.D., from the American Medical Association interviews Pamela Wible, M.D., after her TEDMED talk. Watch periscope video here. Fully transcribed below:
Dr. Sinsky: This afternoon we’re here in Palm Springs, and I’m delighted to be here with Dr. Pamela Wible who gave a terrific TED talk last night. I’m Dr. Christine Sinsky, the Vice President of Professional Satisfaction at the AMA, and we’re here at TEDMED because it’s an important gathering of deep thinkers, of innovators, of practicing physicians. The AMA believes in bringing those key constituencies together. So Pamela, you really knocked it out of the park last night with your talk. It was really just terrific.
Dr. Wible: Thank you so much. It was really fun, amazingly fun to present a topic that’s so challenging.
Dr. Sinsky: I wanted to start out by telling you one of the things that is meaningful to me. That care of the patient requires care of the provider, and I could feel your passion last night around our need to be better as a medical community at caring for each other, at caring for our colleagues. I wonder if you’d like to start from there and move forward.
Dr. Wible: I think we really need more of a culture that is collegial and like a family, instead of a culture of competition. And that starts during premed and day one of medical school we could set the stage for more of a family atmosphere where we’re looking after each other like you would family members. I think that’s how it works in other high-stress professions like fire departments and police departments. People are really there for one another as supports.
Dr. Sinsky: So shoulder to shoulder, together. Picture for me, you are the Dean of a medical school. You have the ability to help change that culture. What would you do?
Dr. Wible: Day one of medical school I would introduce the students to the campus and welcome them home. This is where you will be with your family for the next four years. You’ve jumped through enough hoops to get here and we are here to support you. I would give my personal cell phone number to the students. I would have a panel discussion with some of our top leaders at the medical school who would share their personal struggles with despair and then triumph from professional liability cases, from deaths of their patients, from divorce, suicidal thinking and all of this so that we normalize the conversation of our human needs. And we can start to bond with each other beyond just the supratentorial lectures and multiple-choice tests.
Dr. Sinsky: You know, I was talking after your talk with one of my physician colleagues and we were thinking about how we each felt in medical school and some of that impostor syndrome that I think all physicians feel—that we are isolated and alone and no one else is feeling that way. Tell me more how this approach when you are the Dean can help to address that issue.
Dr. Wible: Right now students feel extremely isolated and that just continues through our entire profession. We are in a culture that glorifies self neglect. And so we end up working on our little islands and we don’t ask for help because, of course, we are supposed to be the helpers. We are not supposed to be receiving help. And so if we can just break through this and really look after one another. Create a situation in which people do not feel individually defective. Once we can communicate that you cried yourself to sleep after the stillborn and so did I and we had the same reaction to that case, it just normalizes our human experience. And that’s what we need to do is start to have conversations like real people, like we are now without the stiff starched white coat.