Clare Gerada: A sense of belonging is vital for doctorsBMJ 2019; 367 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6029 (Published 22 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6029
All rapid responses
I was a GP in Malta for 8 years and came to the UK to practise in 1990. Colleagues, staff and patients were mostly supportive but early on I missed the intricate social lacework of a small island nation. Getting into local groups (church, my son's school, cycling club, birding group and karate school and neighbourhood activities) all made me feel part of the place and people. It took some years but it was worth it.
Competing interests: I am Maltese.
Dr Gerada emphasises the pleasure that people get from being in the company of those who are similar to us and with whom we can talk about shared experiences. I am not Maltese, but I rejoice in the pleasure she describes and recall equivalent occasions involving myself; certainly I can remember the support and sense of camaraderie that I obtained from fellow doctors when I was working through house jobs (without much “professional stigma”).
Sadly, to suggest that you enjoy being with similar people in today’s society risks being accused of an “-ism”, but enjoying the company of related people does not need to demean other “kinships” (medical or otherwise). It is vital that we savour such positive experiences and do not reject them simply because, when taken to an extreme, they can have negative consequences for people outside the group.
We need to recognise that we are not all the same and to base our working relationships on common sense and cooperation - not on legal arguments claiming that we are identical. This would go a long way to relieving the distress (and loneliness) that she describes among doctors (and is becoming quite common in the general public!).
Competing interests: No competing interests