Learn More About Wellness

Why wellness?

Why should we care about wellness?  Really, it’s a no brainer.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be healthier and happier?  I think the better question is: why should people who work in Emergency Departments focus deliberately on cultivating their wellbeing?

Working in the ED is a risky business.  We are exposed to an environment that increases our risk of burnout (our rate is triple that of other specialities)1, sleep disruption2, PTSD3 and substance abuse4,5.  Not to mention that the suicide rate for Canadian physicians is double the national average, and that female physicians are four times as likely to complete suicide as non-physician Canadian women.6  This is a real problem for us.

What makes our job so dangerous to our wellbeing?  Well, just to name a few options, we have:

  1. circadian disruption and sleep disturbances
  2. family / holiday schedule challenges (as in, we work all the holidays…)
  3. stressful cases with little to no recovery time
  4. enormous pressures to be efficient while maintaining accurate, effective and timely care under life and death circumstances

There are many more factors here, this is only the tip of the iceberg…

So it makes sense that we should spend some time deliberately developing our own personal wellness strategies.  Because if we choose to work in the ED (and we do!), then maintaining our wellness is a vital strategy to ensure long, healthy and productive careers.


  1. Berger E. Physician Burnout.  Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2013; 61 (3): A17 – A19.
  2. Frank JR, Ovens H. Shiftwork and emergency medical practice. CJEM. 2002; 4(6): 421-428.
  3. Vanyo L et al. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Emergency Medicine Residents.  Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2017; 70 (6): 898 – 903.
  4. Rose JS, Campbell M, Skipper G. Prognosis for Emergency Physician with Substance Abuse Recovery: 5-year Outcome Study. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2014;15(1):20-25. doi:10.5811/westjem.2013.7.17871.
  5. McBeth BD, Ankel FK, et al. Substance Use in Emergency Medicine Training Programs. Academic Emergency Medicine. 2008; 15:45–53.
  6. Vogel L. Physician suicide still shrouded in secrecy.  CMAJ. 2016; 188 (17-18:) 1213.  https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-5337

Have you heard of compassion fatigue?  Did you know that the compassion you have for yourself (self-compassion) directly relates to how much compassion you have for your patients?  Try this quiz to see your current level of self-compassion.  (And then, try it again after your next vacation to see how your scores change – our levels fluctuate based on numerous factors).

Try Quiz
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