An emergency physician frozen by fear, and what she learned from it

Am I the only emergency physician who sometimes wonders who left me in charge of an ED? I should be confident in managing whatever comes through those ED doors after more than ten years of single-coverage night shifts, but each night I hear a little voice in my amygdala questioning whether tonight will be the night I won’t be able to handle something. Sometimes I feel afraid of the unknown and of what might go wrong. That doesn’t make me a bad doctor; it makes me human. What matters is how I choose to deal with my fear.

This is how Elizabeth Gilbert put it in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear: “Your fear — programmed by evolution to be hypervigilant and insanely overprotective — will always assume that any uncertain outcome is destined to end in a bloody, horrible death.” She likely meant that as hyperbole, but it is not an exaggeration for EPs. The life-or-death situations, where immeasurable stakes ride on our every move, can be scary. We don’t admit it because societal expectations and those we put on ourselves make us feel like we always need to be “on.” No matter how tough we appear on the outside, I think most emergency physicians secretly feel some butterflies on the inside.

For the full article, please visit Emergency Medicine News.

Sandra Scott Simons is an emergency physician.  This article originally appeared in Emergency Medicine News.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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