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Health Of Healers!

Despite decent perks and high levels of prestige, a recent study highlighted that the level of career satisfaction among physicians doesn’t match with their above average salaries and social status. In fact, the report states that 78% of physicians either no longer find the practice of medicine rewarding or find it less rewarding than they did five years ago. A surprising 60% would not recommend medicine as a career path to their own children! Moreover there is evidence that today medical profession is itself a challenge to physical and emotional health of a doctor.

Are doctors more stressed?

An article in the NEJM suggests that because physicians are often overachievers and perfectionists, their major stress stems from the occasional failures that every physician eventually faces. Add to that the increased demand by patients, issues with hospital management, changing government legislation, malpractice concerns, and the concerns of own child’s education, it’s no wonder today’s physicians are experiencing stress levels unimaginable to most people.

How are doctors coping?

Many physicians are giving up the stress of private practice in favour of salaried positions at hospitals. According to a recent article, an increasing number of physicians are attracted by stable salaries and relatively regular hours of hospital jobs. Of course, if one is not prepared to make a major change to reduce professional stress, one may want to try some of these less drastic coping methods:

  • Get a mentor – Find someone in your field who will understand and sympathize with your frustrations and help you navigate what lies ahead.
  • Set boundaries – Achieving work-life balance is a challenge in any profession, but making time for both is essential for minimising stress. Establish boundaries to distinguish between time for work and time for family and self. You need both to maintain a balanced and healthy outlook.
  • Take your own advice!– Make time to eat right and exercise. Not only will this ease your stress, but you will be practicing what you preach.

Are physicans healthier ?

heart-health-healersLogic says that experts of critical diseases and preachers of good health should themselves be easily pretty healthy. Indeed according to the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance database, US physicians live longer than other professionals by few years. However Indian Medical Association, Pune chapter in 2010 brought up a shocking data showing that Indian doctors had ten years lower life span than the general population.  The study included 5500 doctors from Maharashtra  and about 11,000 Drs from across the country. Dr Dilip, President of IMA Pune said stress, sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise were the causes of early deaths, elaborating, “We are becoming obese, stressed, hypertensive and diabetic, and so develop premature heart disease which reduces chances of living longer and staying fit”. He further said the doctors themselves were responsible for their poor lifestyle, lack of exercise, stressful life and an improper diet regime.

Interestingly both the American and Indian data showed that physicians died more often of cardiovascular diseases than other professionals.

Regardless of profession, we all are equally susceptible to all types of ailments. Most deaths occur because of heart diseases /strokes or cancers. Most of us are likely to eventually have one of these. Like we advice our patients and general public, we should ourselves also try to go for regular checkups and follow a healthy life style.

How do doctors challenge their health?

  1. Most doctors don’t go for regular checkups.
  2. Doctors tend to see colleagues who are easy to access rather than who are really good or qualified.
  3. Most doctors have a stressful and demanding daily routine.
  4. Most doctors have late lunch and late dinners
  5. Doctors have frequent meetings/conferences where oily snacks, high calorie desserts and alcohol is served.
  6. Doctors feel they can themselves diagnose their disease and may also suffer from denial factors.

How are doctors doing emotionally?

What’s the advantage of any growth if that doesn’t impart more peace, more laughter and better mood? What’s the point of making more money if that can’t let us have food and sleep on time. When are we finally going to do what we really want to do?

How many of us believe that psychological factors are important to keep good health? What about our own emotional status? It’s proven beyond doubt that good sleep, stable cheerful mood, laughter, regular exercise and controlled breathing are useful in many ways. How many of us ourselves regularly do pranayam/ meditation? Just because something is not sold in the market doesn’t mean it is not important. Let’s not be driven completely by the industry. Let’s adopt an overall healthy lifestyle for ourselves and our family. Once our children watch us following these things they would eventually follow.

Let’s not be in the blind race of seeing more patients or doing more procedures. Let’s not compete with colleagues. Let’s wish everyone good and stay peaceful without increasing adrenaline by jealousy, anger, criticism or fear.
Are we doing fine?

Physically

  1. I do daily some physical exercise for about 30-40 mins, at least 5 days a week.
  2. I check my BP, sugars, lipids, eyes, teeth, once in six months. If female, I also go for regular pap smear and breast examinations or mammogram.
  3. I have no addictions (tobacco/ alcohol).
  4. I eat to live and not live to eat.
  5. I do not consume tobacco in any form.

Mentally

  1. I laugh many times a day
  2. Everyone is in my prayers
  3. I am disposing things off which I don’t use.
  4. I don’t get hurt easily and I don’t hurt others.
  5. I do pranayam/ meditation regularly.

Mantra of a healthy life style

Ask yourself while retiring in night: Have I MADE my day ?
M: Mental relaxation. Let’s have some hobby. Let’s do something that’s not for money or glamour. Let’s laugh many times a day!
A: Avoid addictions, especially to sweets/tobacco / alcohol.
D: Diet control. Let’s eat to live and not live to eat. Do we eat what we advise to our patients? Let’s eat more of fruits, salads and soups. Let’s take limited amount of oil, dairy products and meat. (grilled fish if you are a non vegetarian).
E: Regular exercises. Also include paranayam.

Summary

Life is indeed beautiful. We are in a great profession. Our jobs will never be stress free, but it is important to find effective ways to manage stress levels in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle and avoid career burnout. Let’s not take things very seriously. Let’s not forget to smile and laugh.

We get utmost satisfaction after a busy day and managing difficult cases. But we also need to take care of our own health and mood! We are doctors but we are not immune to diseases. If we keep ourselves healthy and happy, we can be better doctors and better parents.