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Urgency Fallacy

boundaries burnout choice exhaustion limiting beliefs mindset negative emotions negative thoughts overwhelm people-pleasing perfectionism self-compassion Mar 12, 2022
A woman in a blue shirt holds her forehead in her hand, looking at computer by Pexels of Pixabay
A client was telling me about her recent experience with a new patient, and how overwhelmed she felt. The patient was new, hadn’t been to a medical visit for many years, and had a long list of concerns. And she was scheduled for a complete physical. In 20 minutes. As she talked, I took a deep breath too.
It’s an experience that any of us in Primary Care have experienced again and again.
And wow, do we fight with it.
“How am I supposed to take care of all of these questions?”
“What’s wrong with this patient?”
“Who scheduled her for a physical?!?”
The level of our resistance is often at death-com 5.
But, it’s because we believe that our job is to satisfy ALL of the things. And if we throw in a little tendency towards people-pleasing? Eek!
Training in medicine makes us over-attuned to urgency. Because some things we encounter are incredibly urgent. It’s why the phrase “door-to-cath-lab” exists in the ED for patients with potential acute coronary syndrome. There are times when responses need to be quick, targeted and reasonably accurate to prolong life.
We’re trained for it. We do drills and practice the skills.
And then? We can be over-responsive to non-emergencies.
So the patient who is new, and hasn’t been seen for awhile, and needs a physical and has questions? We over-react. Because of our conditioning. And instead of quickly assessing what can and can’t be accomplished in 20 minutes, we slow ourselves down by being in resistance about what is expected of us. And we end up taking on too much, using the time inefficiently, and stewing about it now and later.
What if we can try something new?
If this happens to you, let’s take a step back and breathe. What is reasonable here? How can we create a relationship with this patient, and communicate that her needs are important, but our time is limited for the visit today. What will we focus on today, and when will we follow up? How can we take the urgency we feel, out of a non-urgent situation. How can we start to evaluate the concerns, and then have a clear plan for our follow-up?
Because the truth is, much of what happens in medicine is not actually urgent. Forms that come to us, chronic conditions, chronic back pain without red flags, mammograms. Much of it is not urgent. Other people may feel it’s urgent, for many reasons. But we don’t need to keep believing it’s true. Rather, we can choose to let go of the non-urgent urgency, stay focused on the priorities, and help the patient have a clear plan for the future. Our patients can only absorb so much, and we can only take on so much.
Working through this urgency fallacy is life-changing for my clients. And if you need some support around this? I can help you too. Click here to schedule your consult today.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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