Physician Suicide 101: Secrets, Lies, and Solutions

Pamela L. Wible, MD

November 13, 2014

What Will You Do? Answer: All of the Above

There's so much we can do. I don't care what you do as long as we do something. So will you go out on a limb to save a doctor? To save the people who dedicate their lives to saving others? And if you are suffering, will you seek help?

Standing at the town meeting, I went out on limb. I didn't just tell folks I was an unhappy doctor. I told my entire town I was depressed and suicidal. I begged strangers to help me design an ideal clinic. And define an ideal doctor. I had lost my way. They told me an ideal doctor has a big heart and a great love for people and service. And an ideal clinic is a sanctuary, a safe place, a place of wisdom where we can learn to live harmlessly, listen with empathy, and observe without judgment. It's a place where a revolution starts where we rediscover our priorities with relaxed appointments, smiley-face balloons, and fun flannel gowns—a lady at the town meeting even volunteered to make them for me.

Then a bearded guy in the back of the room raised his hand and asked a question I'll never forget: "Is it possible to find a doctor who's happy?" I collected 100 pages of written testimony, adopted 90% of the feedback, and we opened 1 month later. That was 10 years ago. I'm happy now. All because I asked for help.

Pamela Wible, MD, pioneered the first ideal clinic designed entirely by patients—the original "patient-centered medical home." She was once a suicidal doctor and now dedicates her life to helping medical students and doctors who are disgusted with, depressed by, and feeling suicidal about their once-beloved careers in medicine. There is hope! The original post of this lecture can be found on Dr Wible's Website. You can also view her TEDx talk on this important topic.

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