Burning in burnout
-Written by Hitaishi Thakkar, Blogger & medical student
When I entered medical college, life seemed nothing short of a dream. I had entered this new life full of hustle and bustle.
While it seemed picture perfect at first, the reality of medical school and healthcare profession hits you when you dive head deep into it.
It’s one of the most heartwarming and rewarding professions of all time, but sometimes I wonder, is it all too much?
When a clock’s battery runs out, does it still work? No. But as a medical student/ doctor do you ever stop working? A more realistic answer is – NEVER.
48 hour shifts, emergencies, abusive patients and their relatives, exams, journals, conferences, medical licenses, degrees, learning, skill development, extra curriculars, this pandemonium doesn’t ever seem to end!
And if you’d stop working at any point, it can affect your entire career as a healthcare professional.
The whole workaholic dynamism in the medical world is something an outsider can never comprehend.
A recent study has shown that 50% of healthcare workers show at least one sign of burnout.
That means every second healthcare professional suffers from depression, fatigue, stress, emotional drainage & is likely to feel demotivated. This is very alarming and concerning for the medical fraternity and suggests that something is going wrong in our own system.
Why are we not talking about this? Whenever this is addressed people merely say, “You chose this profession, we didn’t tell you to become a doctor”
Yes, I willingly chose this profession and my passion for medicine will never die but that doesn’t mean that I have to spoil my mental health for it. It doesn’t justify the tyranny and the inhumane working hours. Most doctors don’t even know when they’ll be able to reach home or when their shift will actually end.
The kind of toxic work culture in medicine messes up the work life balance along with the mental health of the professional. In today’s era of Google, dealing with patients and their assault is also tough with no security in the hospital.
The counter argument to all this is always, ” But oh! Doctors earn so much money”
No they don’t, it’s the hospital and the management that is associated with the cheating and black money in most of the cases and not doctors themselves.
Doctors don’t have any autonomy in decision making, we’re merely just doing our work while the management takes all the important decisions.
It’s always a taboo for doctors to “earn more profits” and talk about it because you know healthcare professionals are just supposed to be helping the society without caring about monetary gains.
Notice that we all pay for a lot of services without even batting an eyelid, for example the mechanic or the lawyer or the chartered accountant. It’s okay to have profits, they’re even considered extremely smart for it but when the same is done by a doctor, he becomes unfaithful, shameful and has no empathy.
People have a general notion that doctors just “took away” my money. Aside from all this there’s constant pressure of learning more and updating your skills, keeping up with newer advances, and a lot of bureaucratic work as well.
Media coverage for medical staff and hospitals is biased most of the time and never clarifies the real truth. Recently the news of a doctor giving mosambi juice instead of plasma in UP was published by the media creating a hue and cry on the internet.
What they forgot to publish is that doctors do not have any role in manufacturing plasma and it comes in a pre packaged manner. They even forgot to mention that the lab testing revealed that it was in fact plasma and the mosambi juice was just an assumption made by the patient’s relative.
Well well! a small mistake just led to the consequence of a hospital being sealed for more than 48 hours and the news became an overnight sensation and created headlines.
This is just the tip of the iceberg because there have been numerous such instances, doctors are committing suicide yet the government is in a state of trans. No comments made by our health ministry, no support given to doctors.
No amount of thali banging will actually be enough and it will never be a real solution to the problems doctors are facing.
Burnout is not just our problem but your problem too! Want to know how?
A fatigued doctor is three times more likely to be involved in a medico legal case. It affects patient empathy, treatment and even doctor patient relationship dynamics.
All in all it’s a very grave issue that needs to be addressed, we need to have a stable work life free from the ‘habitual burnout’ that we’re used to.
All I’d like to say is that STOP NORMALIZING TOXIC WORK CULTURE in the name of public service. This is just making the healthcare profession scarce, notice that most of the doctors will always advise you to stay away from this profession. As a student this was always very perplexing, until now when I’m giving the same advice and warning to aspiring candidates.
Make the healthcare profession noble and healthy again. Save the saviors who are burning in burnout. Next time you see your doctor friends, talk to them about something other than their profession or just allow them to relax. Do not bother them with your health concerns outside the hospital. Be empathetic.
Doctors are humans too and despite all the hardships I’d still choose medicine over and over again because of the sense of fulfillment and passion.
In medicine we always keep going
When everything else stops
Until the day we don’t
Some will live to see another day
Others will take to the clawing
Until someone else takes their calling