Stress and the medical profession go together like peas in a pod, it is, rather unfortunate to say. But with the drive on getting more graduates into the medical industry, and the dwindling numbers of recruits, is it just a drought in recruitment, or does this belie a bigger problem? We’ve all seen enough medical dramas to know what a career in the medical industry entails. Long days, little breaks, and an onslaught of professional stress, emotional stress, not to mention individual personal stress. And while every medical professional understands the environment they are going into, it seems that higher numbers are being signed off with stress. So, what does this tell us about the medical industry, and is there a way around this?
It’s not uncommon for medical professionals, especially junior doctors, to go many hours without a break, or even a glass of water. Many professionals feel the duty to care for each patient is at a detriment to their own health. The risks every nurse, assistant, or doctor has on any given day are insurmountable. Each challenge our doctors face, not just in a professional sense, but also a personal sense, has a devastating impact on their abilities to cope. As the years go by, there have been more junior doctors being signed off with stress than senior ones. Why is this? Now, it’s part and parcel of a junior doctor’s shift to do the equivalent work of two people.
These doctors then feel out of their depth, not just because of the mountainous workload, but the fact that they have to spread themselves so thinly. The gaps in the rota, combined with an overriding sense of duty, means that every medical professional does the most to deal with the patients in as efficient a manner as possible. But this isn’t enough. Naturally, every patient is emotionally complex in this environment, regardless of the news, good or bad. As a result, it’s not a far stretch to witness unhappy patients or relatives lash out. Getting injured on the job is a very real threat to our medical professionals, and while there are substantial compensation packages and insurance, of which you can find more at more at Insurestat, the barebones of the matters still don’t provide the doctors with an answer to their stress.
What is the key to understanding the stress? Numerous studies have debated this for years, and one of the defining factors is the mismatch between the nature of the job and the personality of the person. As doctors and medical professionals, in general, need to convey and even-tempered attitude to their work, the excessive stresses and strains mean that they are likely to fall off the wagon. But this only states that the fault is of the person, not the role.
Many doctors have taken the attitude that it’s the patient that is the one with the disease, not the person treating them. This is one way of dealing with the problem for any medical professional that is struggling under the weight of their work. And, especially if they are met with a particularly challenging day, such as the death of a child, or anxiety stemming from the fact that they might have done the wrong thing, every doctor, after a while, will operate with a sense of distance. This helps the doctor in a personal sense, but does this help them do their job better?
The bugbear of many patients is that they have a doctor who is cold and distant. Medical professionals need to be compassionate and empathetic, especially in the direst of circumstances. As a result, every medical professional need to have a fine balance. Can this be achieved? Having a sense of detachment is essential for any medical professional’s survival in the industry now, but it can be achieved by being reserved and professional, not being a closed book.
But with the extreme amount of pressures junior doctors face, in the light of doing more than their fair share of work, is it feasible? The common answer is to maintain a better work-life balance. But this concept is laughable, as every medical professional struggles with this. But, now, bigger medical organizations are focusing on addressing these problems, namely, they are hiring more staff, but the waiting periods for the numbers to increase isn’t overnight. Medical training takes many years, so in the meantime, debriefings have to take center stage. Medical professionals can come to a better resolution if they have the opportunity to undertake debriefings wherever or whenever they can. While the changes in technology we are witnessing means that it can be done through conference calls, or online, a stressed medical professional would benefit more from the personal touch.
Adequate debriefings are one of the keys, but also, suitable defense techniques might help the common medical professional. Sublimation is one of these that many ER professionals use. Essentially, this is where negative feelings are turned into something positive or acceptable. A very common example of this is gallows humor. And while this can feel like a major clash, this has been one of the best coping methods. Every medical professional is entitled to their own professional support. Because the overriding sense of duty means that many medical professionals feel they don’t have the opportunity to do it, such as counselling, or therapy, it’s something that every person should undertake. And maybe this is the cure? Providing ongoing support, from medical trainee to experienced professional, means that they have that support throughout their entire career. Many feel that they haven’t got the support in their workplace. So, by combining professional support with healthy attitudes, this might provide the solution.
Every medical professional encounters extreme stress on a daily basis and it’s these people who are providing us with the care we need. The medical industry is experiencing a major crisis across the board, and this is nothing new, but if it progresses the way it is going, without the lack of support for the professionals means this industry will not provide us with the care we need.