Physician Stress


Every now and then go away,
Have a little relaxation,
For when you come back to your work
Your judgement will be surer;
Since to remain constantly at work
Will cause you to lose power of judgement;
Go some distance away
Because the work appears smaller
And more of it can be taken in at a glance,
And lack of harmony or proportion
Is more readily seen.

This is what Leonardo de Vinci said about 500 years ago. This is one of my favourite quotes. I have used it before in my columns.

I hope you had a good summer and were able to get away for a while – to relax, to look back, and plan for the future.

I had a good summer. Recently, I made some work related sacrifices to have more time off for myself and for my family. Then I took three weeks off and took my family to Europe.

My wife Sabiya, and our travel agent, Jackie Kirk prepared a wonderful itinerary. And with the help of friends and family, we were able to book some nice hotels and see some nice places. We went to London, Oxford, Paris, Geneva, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome and Vatican City.

We travelled by Eurostar from London to Paris, and then by Rail Europe. It was a fascinating experience. Our children loved it and we all had a good time. If you want to take your time and see Europe then I recommend you do it by train. The weather was good and everything went according to plan. And the trains were always on time!

If making a living is hard work then trying to find time to look after oneself requires sacrifices and fair amount of effort. Nothing in life comes easy. There is a price to pay – depending on one’s priority.

A recent poll shows that 25 percent of Canadians work more than 40 hours a week. Most physicians are known to put in long hours. For physicians, there are many sources of stress. Physicians are supposed to be independent practitioners, but they are paid by the government and their practice is, in many ways, controlled by the government.

When patients are not happy then physicians are not happy. Physicians’ capacity to deliver good health care depends entirely on the government’s capacity to provide manpower, funding, equipment, infrastructure etc.

A recent survey shows that physicians are concerned about access and funding and are feeling stressed, says the Medical Post. A survey taken in Northern Lights health region shows that 57 percent of the doctors are dissatisfied, mostly due to stress.

The major sources of stress for physicians are:

-Insufficient medical facilities for patients
-Office details and paper work
-Administrative and committee work
-Problems with other physicians
-Therapy and patient related problems
-Personal finances

Stressed out physicians cannot provide their best to their patients. And physicians face the same sort of lifestyle and health problems as their patients. There are programs organized by Alberta Medical Association to help physicians combat stress. Some physicians do take advantage of this help.

Stress in life is not going to go away. Neither for physicians nor for the general public. But we have to learn to combat stress. Each day, I try to learn something about staying healthy to help myself, my family and my patients. Changing life long unhealthy habits requires time to think, plan and take action!

We can all do it, if we try!

Start reading the preview of my book A Doctor's Journey for free on Amazon. Available on Kindle for $2.99!

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