Physician Suicide 101: Secrets, Lies, and Solutions

Pamela L. Wible, MD

November 13, 2014

Secondary Prevention Strategies

Early Intervention

Annual physical exam

Mental health screening

Substance use screening

Early intervention begins with a yearly physical. In Kaitlyn's second-year physical, her doctor might have said: "I see you lost 20 pounds since first year and you're getting up at 5:00 am to run 10 miles before class. How are things going for you?"

Rapid Therapy

Wellness center and 24/7 hotline

Transitional stress support

Debriefing post trauma

Medical error and malpractice support

Every medical school needs a 24/7 helpline staffed by medical students. We learn to do blood pressures and ear and throat exams on each other. Let's learn emotional support too and give first and second years the real-world experience of being on call—for each other.

Build in support for transitions from second to third year, traumatic cases, and medical errors. We're all going to make an error, and we should not have to feel like a failed perfectionist who can never be a good doctor. Again, medical students and physicians should not be left to cry themselves to sleep in their pillows alone at night with no support. That's inhumane.

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