Why do those who work in healthcare, some of our most compassionate people, lose their empathy?
In her TED talk Sammy reveals how tough things are on the frontline for NHS doctors and speaks candidly about her struggle to keep patients safe.
Sammy explores her research into empathy, and explains how and why doctors’ empathy takes a hit during the early stages of training, and never fully recovers. Introducing the concept of moral injury Sammy explains the psychological toil that working in a broken systems takes on a doctor. She suggests that being unable to provide patients the with the care they need results in moral injury, and over time this leads to burnout and a loss of empathy.
Speaking of her own experience of burnout she argues that the resilience movement has placed too much onus on individual doctors, allowing the system to avoid all accountability for putting employees into a broken system and blaming them when ‘they inevitably break’. She argues that resilience should not be simply a personal responsibility but a ‘team sport’. Calling for a widespread culture change Sammy argues that unless we start looking after our doctors, we will have no-one left to look after our patients.
Speaking about her own journey, Sammy talks openly about finding herself on the other side of the NHS after going into premature labour as an A&E Registrar. After her son Joshua was born at 27 weeks, Sammy talks through the worst day of her life, when her son needed to be resuscitated and his life was in the hands of her colleagues.
There was not a dry eye in the room as Sammy talked through Joshua’s heartbreaking journey through 3 months of intensive care. Paying tribute to the doctors and nurses whoshowed her family so much kindness, Sammy explains how this has forever deepened her already deep appreciation for the NHS, which saved her son’s life. After bringing Joshua home Sammy founded The Doctors’ Association UK, determined to fight for the NHS.
Watch the full talk here on the TEDx platform: