Continuing Medical Education

Physician self-care

Janine Kirby, Patricia Lück


Many of us have worked in the interminable queues of outpatient departments. After a long day, we are greeted with the hopeful, tired faces of families with their ill loved ones. We are meant to be able to heal and cure. Yet, we often run out of options, treatments seem ineffective, and we have to hold the hands of those who are dying. 

Doctors have mostly been trained to cure. They make significant sacrifices in family life, sleep, personal time and hobbies to be able to pursue this ideal. Moving away from cure to compassionate care of dying patients, is a paradigm shift. This can be particularly difficult when caring for children with terminal illness. It is easier to accept death in the elderly as it is part of the natural order of life. Caring for dying children can, however, be draining on both staff and families. 


Authors' affiliations

Janine Kirby, Integrative Practice (Family Medicine and Homeopathy); St Bernard’s Hospice, East London; and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programme, East London, South Africa

Patricia Lück, Gauteng Centre of Excellence for Palliative Care, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Wits Centre for Palliative Care, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Physician; Self-care

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(7):513. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8472

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-05-20
Date published: 2014-06-12

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