Introducing Real Talk: Navigating the 'hard stuff' that affects your mental health, with Kristen Fuller, MD

By Kristen Fuller, MD
Published February 24, 2022

Key Takeaways

Dear MDLinx community,

Welcome to Real Talk, a column dedicated to helping healthcare professionals like you and me navigate experiences that affect our mental and emotional health. I am excited and humbly honored to be featured as an exclusive columnist.

I am an avid reader of medical news and educational articles, and also recognize the need for resources that support the more psychologically taxing aspects of our job.

It's time to normalize difficult topics and support each other through the realities we face. We are supposed to be our patients' protectors, we are supposed to be “flawless” in the eyes of society, but we are humans just trying our best to do our jobs.

Throughout my training and career—I completed my undergrad degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, medical school at Saba University School of Medicine, and my Family Medicine Residency at the University of Tennessee, Memphis—I've experienced competition, exhaustion, toxic work environments, burnout, and lack of sleep. I've watched my colleagues put their patients first while putting their personal lives and their own mental, physical, and emotional health on the back burner. I continued to see physician burnout and the devastating strain on our healthcare professionals as I worked one ER shift after another during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I quickly became an advocate for mental health and am excited to combine my medical knowledge as a physician, my passion for writing, and my firsthand experiences to address the many unmentioned stressors healthcare providers face daily. Educating my community about the trials and tribulations of mental health is my true calling. Nobody teaches you about these things in medical school or residency, and nobody wants to talk about the “hard stuff” for fear of the judgment and stigma it may bring to you and your practice.

With Real Talk, I aim to honestly and openly share my and other providers' challenging experiences, knowing you will relate and hoping you will find clarity, empathy, and inspiration for prioritizing your mental and emotional health. I'll leave you with actionable steps so we can navigate the battlefield of modern medicine together.

I invite you to share your own experiences, too. Submit any topic you'd like to see covered.

Looking forward to getting "real" with you each week!

Kristen Fuller, MD

Read Next: Real Talk: Coping When Your Patient Dies

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