On Friday, OMED21, the world’s largest gathering of osteopathic physicians, kicked off with keynote presentations by author John Medina, PhD, a developmental molecular microbiologist who wrote “Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School,” and Mona Masood, DO, founder of the Physician Support Line, a free, confidential peer-to-peer hotline for all physicians ((888) 409-0141).
Normalizing discussions about mental health
Already concerned about physician well-being before the pandemic started, Dr. Masood quickly saw the mental health toll the crisis would have on doctors, so she founded the Physician Support Line in March 2020. Today, more than 800 volunteer psychiatrists help their peers via the support line.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought burnout and mental health concerns to the forefront of public discourse, Dr. Masood noted in her talk. It also underscored the importance of changing the health care system to better support clinicians’ mental health and working with state licensing boards to make sure they don’t penalize physicians for seeking mental health treatment, she said. Dr. Masood also urged the entire medical profession to join her in championing and supporting clinician well-being.
“I hope that in whatever ways you can, when you talk to colleagues, when you talk to, especially the ones who are residents, or medical students, that you remind them that they are important,” she said. “That they are not just a part of your team or a part of your service, that you center them in their humanity and you ask them and you talk to them about who they are as people, not just the specialties they want to go to, you ask and you care about whether they’re sleeping, whether they’re eating, whether they have families, what are their goals in life, what are their interests in life, that you remind them that their importance is not just patient care.”
The science of paying attention
In his talk, which centered on attention and multitasking, Dr. Medina noted that scientists still don’t know exactly how the brain pays attention to external stimuli.
“We have no idea how you pay attention to things,” he said. “Right now, all we’ve got are theories.”
Dr. Medina explained the three most prominent theories about attention and also discussed selective attention, the challenges of focusing on Zoom meetings and the impact of social interaction on attentional states.
On Friday, OMED participants also attended myriad continuing medical education sessions, including the following:
- A discussion on the basic tenets of skincare by Suzanne Sirota Rozenberg, DO, and the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.
- A talk on handling medical emergencies on commercial airline flights presented by Daniel Berry, DO, and the American Osteopathic College of Occupational and Preventive Medicine.
- Guidance for physicians from all specialties on integrating osteopathic principles into patient care from Karen Snider, DO, MS, the American Academy of Osteopathy and the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine.
OMED21 participants who missed any of Friday’s sessions, including those mentioned above, will be able to access them on-demand through Nov. 25.