My Love Letter to the Graduating Medical School Class of 2023: Protecting Yourselves Against the Occupational Hazard of Physician Suicide

When I read this letter, I was first surprised a physician would write something like this. It is a ‘thou shall not talk about’ subject, and if it is discussed, I have never read it as a warning.

I was honestly moved to tears, as we all know someone who has died from suicide. Seemingly, it is an all too familiar loss in medicine, but not discussed. We have all mourned or at least paused to remember someone, a colleague, who died from #suicide. Why from instead of by or committed suicide? Dr. Robyn Tiger MD and I had a discussion, and she had a great point! By saying someone died from suicide, as if saying someone died from a heart attack, it frames it as an illness, which it is. Don’t demonize the person who was suffering from mental illness. This has been an eye opener in a very good way.

Dr. Rupi, the author of the Love Letter (link above), is so right. Medicine can leave us damaged, incomplete, exhausted, and yearning for something more—-more fulfilling than just a professional life or material things. It can also be beautiful, heart-warming, the most noble profession! It is sad how much medicine has deteriorated to a ‘business’ run as it is. The reality of medicine is disconnected as to what it is portrayed to be prior to medical school, or at least those wet behind the ears as I was. No one talks about the ugly side—about the culture, the disconnect of helping patients but the other side of having to do things that will not impact health, except may be your own. #Medicine has changed even with the thirteen years of my practice. I have never once thought of suicide, but I have considered walking away for good. It is true, you can leave medicine temporarily or permanently. I would encourage anyone and everyone to read Dr. Rupi’s letter. I think it is real, it is practical, and forever truthful.

The Secret Occupational Hazard In Medicine &Raquo; Image Asset 11

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Sapna Shah-Haque Internal Medicine Physician

Dr. Sapna Shah-Haque, MD is a board certified Internal Medicine physician. She was born and raised in Kansas, and attended medical school at the University of Kansas [KU] School of Medicine. She completed her Internal Medicine residency at KU-Wichita as well. After experiencing burnout herself, and watching other physician colleagues burn out, it became a passion of hers to look into different aspects of burnout. While the system does need to change, as it is broken, this podcast is a way to reach physicians and possibly shed light on what is not an isolated situation.