One Person’s Experience with Integrity
Comfortable shoes and the freedom to leave are the two most important things in life.
A colleague of mine accepted a senior clinical position at a large research hospital She quickly saw that the culture was focused on conducting research, with attention to patients as a secondary priority. When tension and irritation began to build in her. she courageously spoke up about being attentive to patients but was met with a wall of resistance. Her peers were comfortable operating in this culture. Over time, she was excluded from decision-making and she felt a growing self-doubt, un-ease, and fear mixed with a desire to be accepted.
Her inner conflict came into sharp focus when she remembered the vow she took: to first, do no harm. Her value of being caring to patients were not aligned with the culture of the institution, and she was not contributing to it. Each morning, she had to turn off huge parts of herself just to walk in the door- a very costly approach to living day after day. Later, she resigned to her own great relief.
My colleague experienced moral distress, which is a state wherein you know the right action to take but simultaneously feel constrained from carrying out that action for some reason.
I interviewed her and with hindsight, this is what she learned:
- Be less tolerant of distress. She wishes she had left sooner. While she tried hard to make it work, she never wants to compromise her integrity again. This is how people become sick. Don’t wait for the physical breakdown; trust your own integrity.
- If you’re not on board with the strategic mission of the organization, you likely don’t belong there.
- Emotional courage requires speaking up even when in fear. If not heard, it may be time to leave.
We may meet so many people along this long road,
But it is of no use, until we finally meet ourselves.
― Mimi Novic