Book Reviews by Jean Gray, MD
Irondoc: Practical Stress Management Tools for Physicians
Mamta Gautam, MD, FRCPC, MOT; Book Coach Press, Ottawa ON. 114 pages; $19.95 Cdn; ISBN: 0-9735207-4-4
Three cheers for Sue Swiggum! Dur ing her term as President of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, she invited Mamta Gautam, a psychiatrist in private practice in Ottawa, to give a talk on depression at the FMWC Annual Meeting. That proved to be a turning point for Dr. Gau tam and led to a career in physician health and well-being. She is the first director of the University of Ottawa Faculty Wellness Program and serves as Chair of the Expert Advisory Group for the CMA Centre for Physician Health and Well-being as well as Co-chair of the Canadian Psychiatric Association Section on Physician Health. All this and she still had time to gain the credential "MOT", a self-awarded degree. What is MOT, you say? Why, "Mother of Three", of course ~ an ideal laboratory for learning all about stress!
Based on the analogy of the lronman triathlon, Dr. Gautam writes a delightful, lucid, jargon-free handbook on the vari ous stressors in the lives of physicians and provides a well-stocked toolbox of suggestions to help those who wish to alter the stress levels in their lives. Liberally laced with examples from her own life, she provides advice and guidance to any physician who has or may be losing control over their professional and personal lives. This is not a substitute for real medical or psychiatric care but rather a guidebook to help one bring order to an otherwise disordered lifestyle. I was pleased to recognize that I had stumbled on some of her suggested life strategies spontaneously but also noted others that will be of value in the months and years to come. My only mild regret is that she didn't write this book two or three decades ago, when I could really have used it!
This book will be of interest to all physicians-in-training and physicians in practice. It is well edited, easy to read, and a lovely way to spend a brief airplane or train ride or a rainy weekend afternoon. I would even go so far as to suggest that it be provided to all physicians shortly after entering practice to aid them to recognize signs of stress and/or burnout in themselves and colleagues and to seek appropriate help. That would aid in physician retention, serve to model the CanMEDs Advocacy role, and be a good public health initiative!