Mataroria Lyndon is a second year House Officer and is to commence his PhD in the areas of motivation and well-being under the supervision of Professor Andrew G. Hill.
Stress and burn-out are well known in the medical profession and can start as early as Medical School. In fact studies conducted by Professor Hill and colleagues at the University of Auckland highlighted problems among med students such as sleep deprivation, fatigue and concerns about student debt.
If not managed properly stress and burnout can follow you into the work place with evidence suggesting it may impact on patient care.
So how do we ensure our students and future doctors look after themselves and stay motivated to get through their intense time of study and the learning to come when they enter the workforce as health professionals?
What motivates people may be a key factor that affects wellbeing and there seems to be two theories on this. One theory is intrinsic motivation i.e. motivation that comes from within – for example doing something because you love it and the other theory is driven by external pressures i.e. rewards such as money and fame or to avoid punishments. These of course can change, depending on what may be going on in your life at the time.
Professor Hill and I are particularly interested in how motivation changes throughout the various stages of Med school, starting from lectures in the second and third year and into your 4th year when you go into hospital (this can be quite daunting) – through to being fully employed in the workforce.
My medical training had a huge impact on my colleagues and me. For many it was a time for growing up and meant coping with challenges like studying away from home, meeting high parental expectations, coping with a complex curriculum, completing degree requirements and studying for tests or exams. In those early years your motivation may come from pressure to pass exams or getting assignments in on time. However it’s not until you really get out into the Hospital that your motivation may change in terms of doing the best for your patients. I guess you could say you start to see the big picture.
Motivation also covers a wide spectrum, so a focus of my research is in ethnic groups – in particular Maori students and Pacific students including those growing up in South Auckland. My particular interest is educational outcomes in these groups and looking at how beliefs, family and culture impact on motivation and subsequently well being. I’d also like to look at how the training environment supports wellbeing. For example if we are encouraging students to study at Medical School I’d like to think the environment is supportive to learning and not detrimental.
Ko Awatea has plans to bring in a series of health and well being workshops which I think is a great idea. They already have a wellness programme (SMARTShop) for First Year House Officers which I was fortunate to take part in. What this programme did was made you stop and think about how you are taking care of yourself. I’d like to see these programmes opened up further to include all professions.
We are all in the profession of caring for others, however we need to take the time to care for ourselves. If not what kind of learning and working environment are we creating for ourselves, our colleagues and our patients?