Becoming a doctor is a highly regarded opportunity that takes a certain type of person to embark on. While this profession is honorable, media often glamorizes it, only showing the good sides of a physician’s life. But what’s hidden in the public eye are the exhaustion from long hours of study and shifts at the hospital, or the pressure and anxiety that comes from ensuring that patients are being taken cared of. And this is just internally – there are insurance companies to deal with and student loans to pay. (05:03)
According to a Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, half of medical residents are experiencing burnout, stress and depression. Dr. Neela Rao, who specializes in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates, is among this alarming statistic.
She talks about the struggles she personally faced while doing her medical training and how it’s a pretty common experience during this time. And the majority only realize the gravity of the situation once the training is over. (14:00) She believes that a lot of it has to do with how future doctors are somehow trained to think in terms of checklists, that they end up going through the motions and not living their own lives outside of medicine. (16:19) This doesn’t just affect their own personal lives, but their relationships with others too.
Fortunately, there is now more dialogue surrounding the subject of physician or resident burnout that the stigma it used to have is being broken. Resources and programs are available to trainees, which is a step in the right direction, but the long hours that training requires makes it tough for trainees to actually have time to take advantage of these resources to help with their own struggles. (22:20)
Doctors should give themselves more credit and take a step back to celebrate successes or wins experienced during residency. She also gives tips to help cope with the stress during medical training, such as practicing mindfulness and gratitude. You should also remind yourself why you wanted to be a doctor in the first place, as it’s easy to lose sight of your purpose because of the daily grind. (21:09)
For Dr. Rao, it’s okay to feel something real for your patients. You don’t have to be a robot because at the end of the day, you are a person who has the capacity to feel emotions. (24:06)
White Coat Wisdom
This week’s White Coat Wisdom dives into emergency funds and how these are part of the foundation of a solid financial plan. These designated cash reserves should be fully liquid, easy to access or transfer and must not be used for ordinary expenses. You can also take advantage of online banks, where you can yield higher interest than brick and mortar banks would offer.
White Coat Achievement
According to research, facing malpractice litigation is a pretty common occurrence. However, it’s still considered a taboo topic to talk about in the medical industry. Dr. Stacia Dearmin, a pediatric emergency medicine doctor, aims to change that by providing information and support to physicians who are struggling in this area. Lawsuits cause additional stress and are on of the causes that lead to high burnout and suicide rates among medical practitioners.
She is featured in this week’s White Coat Achievement segment for her work on The Thrive Physician and her blog Breaking Our Silence Around Malpractice Litigation she shares insights that she learned from winning her own litigation case.