BY JAMIU BUSARI (@JOBUSAR)
Javeed Sukhera (@javeedsukhera)
Associate Professor, Departments of Psychiatry/Paediatrics
Scientist, Centre for Education Research and Innovation
Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry
Associate Scientist, Children’s Health Research Institute
Associate Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute
PSI Mental Health Knowledge Translation Fellow
London, Ontario, Canada
Javeed Sukhera, MD, PhD is a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry Western University in London, Canada. He splits his time down the middle between research at the University’s Centre for Education Research and Innovation and clinical work at the Children’s Hospital. When asked how he juggles his professional responsibilities, Dr Sukhera responds, “I protect Tuesdays and Thursdays for research and the other activities are interspersed throughout the week”.
Staying grounded through clinical work
Dr. Sukhera’s clinical duties take place in a pediatric chronic pain program, as well as in a general outpatient clinic at London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, Canada. Additionally, he is on call for child and adolescent mental health emergencies in his region for about three days/month and one weekend every 3 months. Javeed shares that patient care helps keep him humble – particularly when working with the youth, who challenge him to be the most authentic version of himself. He loves that his clinical work helps to ground him in the reality of the word’s suffering and injustice, allowing him to cultivate hope while bringing his fullest self to the work that he does.
Teacher, Educator, Scientist…and Activist.
As a teacher, Javeed approaches his work with a commitment to embracing learners as who they are and helping them transform their personal and professional self through education. As an educator and scientist, he seeks to unravel and deconstruct some of the complex problems and to address and mobilize the knowledge gained towards action.
Another role Dr. Sukhera considers central what he does and who he is is that of activist. “Being able to co-create space for healing and use my privilege to advocate against injustice is tied to every aspect of what I do.” It saddens him that activism has taken on a negative connation in many settings. To him, activism is love. “When you love someone or something you tell them the truth and you seek ways to help them be better.” He adds, that for many educators, advocacy happens in largely invisible ways because the professional culture views it as inherently disruptive. “Yet” he adds, “many of us know, through personal and professional experiences, that advocacy is a matter of necessity.”
Early on in his career, Dr Sukhera realized that when he was struggling, he tended to run faster and work harder. He found himself running on a hamster wheel, giving more and more of himself to the work while losing his humanity in the process. “I realize that that my training had encouraged me to compartmentalize my identity as a form of self-protection.” Over time, Javeed learned to slow down and prioritize self-care. He also learned to be deliberate about self-love, and self-compassion. He leaves us with the following words of wisdom: “The work we do is tough and often emotional. Therefore, we must take time to resist cycles of self-blame and self-criticism and neutralize them with self-kindness and self-validation. We are often taught to wear literal and figurative armor, yet we forget that what makes us human, makes us who we are”.
Three tips for Junior CEs: Be strategic, change starts with self and lean in to discomfort
- Liberate yourself from the need to do everything at once. When you see something, you want to make better, remember that it is impossible to boil the ocean. Be strategic about what you want to do. Start with small steps, seek guidance and feedback, take one thing on at a time. Remember that we can only truly do one thing effectively in the moment. Whatever it is that you do, be fully present.
- Accept what you can’t change and start by changing yourself. Many of us see problems and challenges and burn most of our energy pointing fingers (myself included). Change starts by looking in the mirror and accepting what we see. We are all flawed, imperfect beings, and our humanity is the greatest tool we have. We should devote our energy to changing our way of being first and working to change the systems we work in.
- Truth is kind. Many times, our systems tend to avoid tension or shy away from it. I believe that we must lean into discomfort if we are interested in growth. Never shy away from bringing your full self to what you do. Never fear to speak honestly and compassionately about your perspective.
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