- Posted April 15, 2014 by
Projection: Guilty As Charged!
Recently I was the only resident in charge of the telemetry (cardiac monitoring) floor in a busy New York hospital where the patient volume is high and turnover is rapid. Attendings arrive early morning with expectations of the resident knowing all the patients that were on the floor from day prior, to new admissions over night, numbers as high as in the twenties at times. This day the team only consisted of a resident, myself, and two interns, with the whole floor to ourselves to manage. Entire day was filled with anxiety, “don’t mess this up Supreeya!” was my constant inner dialogue. Stakes were high, patients were sick. After an exhausting day worth of constant patient care and always being on my toes, with no time to give to myself to even take care of my bodily functions, I took a deep breath. I had done it, and I had done it well. Patient’s hearts were safe in my hand. As the day ended one of the nurses pulled me aside. “ You used to be so nice Dr. Swarup, what happened today?” “What does she mean?” I thought to myself. She proceeded with “everytime I approached you today I felt as if I was bothering you” I was deemed rude that day. I couldn’t hold back my tears, as they gushed out I explained how stressed I was that day, and obviously I had projected my feelings on to her, and perhaps others. I apologized to her and explained it was nothing personal, I was not even aware of my behavior.
Projection is a defense mechanism by which we relieve ourselves of negative feelings by throwing them, projecting them, at others. I was now guilty myself! What had taken over me? Stress? Anxiety? Long hours? In fact, all of the above. In medicine we are often pulled in several directions rendering us thin and sensitive. Its not something that only takes place in a residents life, this pattern penetrates at all levels of training. It is that day that I realized its actually not just medicine; this behavior can be observed at any point in life. What did I need to do to cure myself of this? Answer was simple. Not let my circumstances overcome me. When did I start believing my work would only bring the best out of me? When did I start letting my career dictate my behavior? Upon reflection I attained a deeper level of consciousness. I now understand that my career is important, however my mental health is far more important. Never again will I let the stress of my work place me in a position where I project that onto others. Projection is real and we all do it all the time, the key is to become conscious of it, and beat it before its too late. The key ultimately is to take complete control of our thoughts and behaviors by becoming more aware.
Although the article titled “ How Being A Doctor Became The Most Miserable Profession” makes some valid points, I understood that medicine is not entirely the most miserable profession, however, we the doctors are. We let ourselves go to that place that we project that feeling not only onto people but also other things attached to us, such as our career. And for the most part it’s as if we are on autopilot and are completely unaware of our behavior pattern. The healthier we become on the inside, the healthier we become on the outside. By taking full credit for our actions we are lead to a deeper level of consciousness. The beauty of it is that it is never too late to change!