High angle view of diverse medical team working together at table in hospital. Coffee cup, medical folders, clipboard, digital tablet and laptop are on the table.

Can you bring your whole self to work?

Human beings are incredibly complex. We all have multiple aspects to our identities that contribute to how we see ourselves and the world around us. 

Though a big part of your identity might be your role as a healthcare provider, you might also be a parent, partner, sibling, teammate, or friend. Often, you’re asked to leave some parts of yourself at the door when you go to work. However, your identity — for example, being Black, gay, Muslim, non-binary, autistic, deaf, or living with chronic pain — is who you are. It may not be possible for you to leave these parts behind.

There are many parts of someone’s identity that cannot easily be “switched off,” including:

  • Race and ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Age 
  • Religion
  • Ability
  • Neurodiversity
  • Health status

It can be stressful to navigate feeling that you shouldn’t bring these parts to work when your own unique experience of the world is rooted in these intersecting, multi-faceted aspects of your identity. This may be particularly true during personal, societal, or global crises that bring awareness to particular parts of your identity (e.g., the increased awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement or the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and racialized communities).

Navigating these experiences in high-stress or unsupportive work environments can lead to challenges including:

  • Difficulty reconciling conflicting roles and responsibilities 
  • Conflict or confusion within your values, or between your values and the values of others
  • Feeling shame or hiding important parts of yourself in certain settings
  • Feelings of anger, injustice, or betrayal (toward yourself, an important other, or society)
  • Feeling powerless or at the mercy of society’s views and assumptions about you that are based on elements of your identity
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Feeling misunderstood, unseen, or underappreciated