CPD Articles

A mindful approach to physician self-care

Janine M. Kirby, Peter D. Milligan, Hofmeyr H. Conradie, Belinda M. McIntosh
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 2| a5836 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5836 | © 2024 Janine M. Kirby, Peter D. Milligan, Hofmeyr H. Conradie, Belinda M. McIntosh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 September 2023 | Published: 30 January 2024

About the author(s)

Janine M. Kirby, Dr Janine Kirby, Private Practice, East London, South Africa
Peter D. Milligan, Department of Psychiatry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Hofmeyr H. Conradie, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Belinda M. McIntosh, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, Tintswalo Hospital, Acornhoek, South Africa


There has been an increasing awareness of the importance of physician mental health. Several South African studies show a high prevalence of burnout among doctors. Burnout is characterised by three components: exhaustion, depersonalisation, and a sense of a lack of efficacy. Burnout is a result of both external and internal pressures. While lifestyle modification is essential, mindfulness-informed programmes promote self-regulation and resilience. Mindfulness programmes comprise three components: present moment awareness, perspective-taking and wisdom, and compassion. Physician wellness begins with individuals recognising the need of self-care and giving themselves permission to prioritise this. Ongoing identification of self-care needs and acting compassionately to address these needs is essential.


Self-care; burnout; systems failure; presence; perspective; self-compassion


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