Dr Maple Goh is a third-year physician-trainee , accomplished violinist, and is the Founder and Podcast Host of Doctor NOS. She is currently working in Auckland, New Zealand.
She came to New Zealand from Brunei when she was twelve years old and grew up in Dunedin for most of her adolescence, as well as studying medicine at Otago University.
In 2018, she moved to Auckland for work and has been there ever since.
“Honestly, I became a doctor much by circumstance and naivety rather than by inspiration,” explained Goh. “I was fortunate enough to find the basic sciences easy and privileged enough to have the opportunity to go to university and medical school.”
For Goh, medicine offered the best of both worlds
“ it was the delight of serving others, but also balanced with job security and financial security.”
“Health and wellbeing is at a tipping point in the medical industry” said Goh, “we have devastating rates of burnout, mental health issues, and sadly, suicide.”
Over 50% of the profession is in burnout (ASMS, 2021), and the contributing factors are hours worked, lack of sleep, and the stress of the job.
“Like many others, I have experienced burnout in medicine. “Burnout, for me, manifested in the form of disillusionment, low job satisfaction, and sleep deprivation,” said Goh.
Luckily for Goh, she worked in a supportive practice who took steps to combat it immediately. “I was very fortunate in that during my burnout I was well supported by my supervisor and my GP. I can't emphasise enough how important this type of support is to be able to get through it, and it is certainly not an easy feat to accomplish solo.”
For Goh, the remedy was self-care: “I took some time off, went back to the basics of eating well, exercising regularly, and sleeping well, and with mega-support from friends and my GP, I got back on the bandwagon again.”
Despite experiencing burnout herself, Goh remains positive about the future:
“I am hopeful that our systems will improve to encourage our doctors to have time-off, and have less anti-social and dangerously fatiguing rosters so that we can practice safely and prioritise our own well-being.
After experiencing burnout and coming out the other side, this is Dr Goh’s advice for other doctors around how to combat the problem:
“I mainly de-stress with exercise, and that means making it a priority to go to gym every morning and attend my boxing classes, circus acrobatics, or scuba dive.”
2. Have a creative outlet
“Having a creative outlet is so satisfying and fulfilling. Personally, this is in the form of music and ceramics. I think being able to visualise myself multidimensionally as beyond just 'being a doctor' and being well-rounded improved my awareness within my own job, and gave me a sense of meaning and purpose.”
3. Have activities outside of work
“I can look forward to being at work, but I also want to be able to look forward to things outside of work! - Our lives are more than just about our careers and our jobs.”
4. Practice self-care and seek support
“We are multidimensional and multifaceted, and this means having friends and family, it means having hobbies, and it means radical self-care. Especially in the landscape of a pandemic, it is a wake-up call to realise our health and wellbeing is a priority.”
5. Join a union
“Part of this is joining a union so that we are advocated for when we are most vulnerable, and this has drastically improved our working conditions over the last few decades. “
Dr Maple Goh is the Founder and Podcast Host of Doctor NOS; a podcast station providing career guidance and navigation for junior doctors. S
Chambers. C, 2021, “My Employer is Exhausting – Burnout in the senior medical workforce five years on”. Accessed: 9th August 2021 <www.asms.org.nz>