Not Whining, But Speaking the Truth

Wendy Schofer, MD, responds to the recent article, "Doctors, Stop Your Whining," in which a pediatrician speaks to how colleagues need a way to express their concerns and vulnerabilities as speaking the truth is the basis for grassroots change.

OK, I’ll bite!

The recent SoMeDocs article, “Doctors, Stop Your Whining,” was clearly written to spurn discussion.

As a pediatrician and mom, I know a lot about whining. Kids whine when they are upset, when they are looking for something, and when they do not feel that they have the means to do solve the problem themselves.

There is a benefit to whining when it helps them get what they want. But it’s a maladaptive technique, because it isn’t empowering them to figure it out themselves.


There is a benefit to whining when it helps them get what they want. But it’s a maladaptive technique, because it isn’t empowering them to figure it out themselves. Click To Tweet


Let’s turn back to physicians right now. We are tired. We are stressed. We are burdened. And we are being told not to “whine,” but to get to work doing something about it.

We are NOT whining. We are being human. We are looking for connection and support. We need to talk. We need to vent. And we need to express the emotions that have been bottled up for far too long.

Being labeled as whining does not help (just like it doesn’t help anything to shame your child as a whiner), and neither does being told to stop whining.


“We are NOT whining. We are being human.”


The paternalistic tone of the article is noticeable. “Stop your whining and you’re (sic) complaining, especially on social media, and stop making us look bad.”

Oh, this is how it reflects upon you? My friend, others’ posting on social media does not reflect upon you. We cannot ask others to stop speaking their truth because it looks bad. The state of Medicine looks bad right now.

Our colleagues are distressed and are looking for an outlet. We are in a broken system, and individuals are trying to carry on by picking up the pieces to do their best for patient care, let alone their own self-care. Acknowledging pain and speaking your truth is a very important part of self-care.

I hear the voices, read the posts, and support my colleagues. You see, I was one of them. A few years ago, I was working in a primary care office and had too many patients with too many needs in a clinic with too little support. I was drowning.

I spoke up often and loudly about my concerns. Was I whining? Perhaps some can look at it that way. I know in my heart that I was doing the best that I could. I tried to change what I could by raising my voice. I was told to be quiet and do my job. Nothing changed.

After only 2 months in the job, I resigned.

The action that I took was to leave, because my concerns fell upon deaf ears.

Sometimes taking action is connecting with others, writing articles, or saying “enough.”

Speaking up and out about what is broken is a part of our grassroots efforts to change this broken medical system. And the first change is speaking your truth. The anonymous poster spoke theirs, our colleagues who are expressing their concerns online are speaking theirs, and I’m speaking mine.

When we speak our truth, we empower ourselves to make change.


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