Early in 2017 the medical community was devastated by the widely publicised deaths of our colleagues by suicide. It ignited something in all of us, a mixture of devastation, grief for those directly affected, and the feeling that something had to change. We wanted to identify some key areas that may have contributed to the sense of isolation and depression, and ultimately driven these highly capable, skilled, caring and well-loved professionals to take their own lives, so that we could enable change and prevent further deaths.
We identified a number of risk factors:
- a lack of peer to peer support
- a lack of collaboration and inspiration
- a culture of bullying and discrimination
- a lack of flexibility and work-life balance
- inadequate doctor resourcing and career uncertainty
- discomfort with seeking help for mental health concerns for a variety of reasons
- lack of open discussion around mental health issues
- the absence of a supportive environment for doctors who do not fit into the construct designed to fit the needs of a group of men who do not share parental responsibilities nor carry the majority of the household burden
Set against the backdrop of the patriarchy of Medicine we realised these issues could not be addressed without a shift in the culture. We saw the first step for us was to address gender inequality, and so the idea for Doc to Doc was born.
Our mission is to empower female doctors through mentorship, connection, collaboration and support. We want to open up the discussion about the real challenges that doctors and medical students face, the potential impact on our mental health and sense of wellbeing, and the health of our personal relationships. We also believe that there is a gap in the education around leadership, management and culture. We hope that by filling that gap, and by addressing some of the inequalities, we will increase female leadership and cultural change.
1. Humility – We believe in equality, that is, basic human rights for all people. People of all races, religions and particularly those seeking asylum. No person is superior to another, so we try to consciously act with humility.
2. Bring excellence – when we perform to the highest of our ability, we drive progress and we elevate those around us.
3. Fail forward – if you aren’t failing, you aren’t doing enough. Failing is about being brave enough to try, and then learning from your mistakes. We view it as a positive, not a negative. It is the first step in the process of evolution.
4. Empower others wherever you can – no one exists alone or works alone. When we empower others, we all reap the benefits.
5. Transparency – we say what we mean and we do what we say.
6. Express gratitude – gratitude is one of the pillars of resilience. By expressing it we share it, and give it meaning.
As women we believe in women. We are in constant awe of the strong, inspiring, capable women around us and acknowledge that women are inherently at a disadvantage. We hope Doc to Doc goes some way to levelling that playing field.
Dr Melissa Yang
Respiratory & Sleep PhysicianMelissa feels strongly about advocating for junior doctors and medical students to ensure that they have a safe, sustainable and enjoyable workplace. She believes women are the backbone of their families and communities, and sees Doc to Doc as a way to support and empower women in medicine to facilitate their success, wellbeing and happiness.
Dr Anna Dunn
Respiratory PhysicianAnna is a Respiratory Physician who has recently completed her training in Victoria. She is also a writer, a runner, and a feminist. She believes in creating a level playing field for women in medicine and is passionate about helping young female doctors strive to have it all. She wants Doc to Doc to change the world for women in medicine.
Dr Naghmeh Radhakrishna
Respiratory & Sleep Physician
One of Naghmeh’s values is a passion for helping family, friends, colleagues and patients by listening and offering solutions. With Doc to Doc, her dream is to offer solutions to female doctors to achieve the very best they can. To push forth without fear and boundaries and to make medicine equal for all.