National Doctors’ Day 2023
A pledge of thanks and support for dedicated physicians
Across the United States, March 30 marks National Doctors’ Day, a day to express thanks, celebrate physicians, and recognize their sacrifice. It is exceptionally meaningful this year to recognize these dedicated clinicians as they continue to serve on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Doctors’ Day also presents an opportunity for physicians to take a step back and look at their lives and careers.
“It’s a time for physicians to be mindful of that for which they are grateful, and it’s still a privilege to practice medicine,” said Greg Hammer, MD, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, and author of GAIN Without Pain: The Happiness Handbook for Health Care Professionals. GAIN stands for gratitude, acceptance, intention, and nonjudgment and is a way of practicing mindfulness.
Physicians taking charge of their lives
“Often physicians get caught up in the negative aspects and not feeling professionally fulfilled,” Hammer said. “But in fact, it is a privilege taking care of patients, and we should be grateful for the opportunity. We also should be grateful to the institution for providing a culture and practice infrastructure in which we can work.”
Acceptance is the second component of GAIN. Hammer encourages fellow physicians to accept that they are not perfect and can on occasion make mistakes.
“We also need to accept the end game and the limitations in delivery of healthcare,” Hammer said. “Some of it can be changed and some cannot. There are healthcare inequities. We can work to include those, but most of us do not have much influence.”
With intention, the third factor, Hammer said, physicians “can change the way we think and become more grateful. We can beat ourselves up less and be more mindful and present.”
That’s not the normal way physicians’ brains work, he explained, so it requires intention and rewiring doctors’ minds so they are more grateful, positive, and present.
The last component is nonjudgment. Hammer recommended focusing one’s energy and not judging oneself.
“We are much more harsh on ourselves than we are with a friend or others,” Hammer said.
A personal Thank You on National Doctors’ Day
What is the best way to say “Happy National Doctors’ Day”? The staff at AMN Healthcare offer the following video message to all physicians, especially those whom we have had the privilege of helping in their career journey.
Across the country, health systems and other employers are also recognizing their physicians on Doctors’ Day. NYU Langone in New York is asking patients to tell them about a special physician, and Touro LCMC Health in New Orleans is encouraging patients to write messages to their physicians.
Other ideas for recognition include handing out awards; celebrating on Zoom; giving appreciation cards; offering tokens of appreciation, flowers or food baskets; or providing on-site massages or a day off.
How organizations can support their physicians
Hammer suggests several things institutions and leadership can do to support physician wellness and resilience, including promoting a culture of wellness and practicing equitable hiring and promotions.
He also noted the importance of efficiency of practices, making sure there are enough staff members so surgical cases flow smoothly, and ensuring there are sufficient supplies, materials and other infrastructure.
“The institution leadership has the responsibility to promote a culture of wellness and also [provide] the right infrastructure so a practice can be applied efficiently,” Hammer said.
AMN Healthcare is the nation’s leading placement firm for physicians and advanced practitioners.