Bioethics Blogs

Burnout and self-care for bioethicists

by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

Like many bioethicists, I often have to research disturbing parts of American culture for various writing projects. Topics like rape, gun violence, sexism, and medical racism are often times the subjects of my scholarly articles and blogs. Many times, I have to research how these topics play out in our everyday lives, forcing me to research popular and heart-breaking news stories such as the Orlando night club shooting or the recent Stanford rape case. Because of technology, social media, and the always handy cell phone, my research often requires me to read or watch the testimonies of witnesses to heinous crimes, crime scene photos, and/or videos of murders. During my research I encounter articles written by hateful and bigoted people, but as a good researcher, I have to read their vile words as well. Sometimes my research hits a little too close to home and prompts me to think about the possibility of these disturbing occurrences happening to me, my family, or my friends. While doing research on these kinds of topics, I, understandably can feel frustrated with the world, angry, sad, hopeless, and especially discouraged. My current research project on victim-blaming has me feeling especially angry and discouraged right now, but it is also forcing me to think about how I can take care of my emotional and mental health so that I can continue what I believe to be meaningful work.

Medical educators often teach medical students and physicians how to prevent burnout, how to recognize burnout, and how to treat burnout.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.