Physician Wellness – A Critical Issue in America’s Health Care Industry

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Few people would be surprised to learn that doctors, like everyone else, get sick sometimes. But many people are not aware that these same MDs, because of their profession, are subject to illnesses that are just being recognized and understood. The intense hours of medical training and clinical or office work can and do affect the health, both physical and mental, of doctors and their families. Physician wellness is a relatively new branch of psychiatry that specifically addresses the types of mental illnesses doctors struggle with due to their careers.

The demands of the medical field are well documented. The hour’s people are forced to work during training are excessive; in fact, there is almost no other type of work where such hours are even permitted, never mind demanded. Many doctors will continue to work these excessive hours long after their internships and residencies have ended. Popular TV series such as “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy” portray all-too-realistic images of medical practices that are not healthy, either for the doctors themselves or for their patients and the hospitals where they work.

In addition to mental stress, doctors also have a lot of bad health habits. At least 25 percent admit to getting inadequate exercise. Poor diets such as eating out of vending machines or in hospital cafeterias while on the run is the norm for more than 30 percent of all doctors studied. It is estimated that at least 15 percent of all physicians will deal with their own mental illness, as well as drug and/or alcohol dependency at some point in their careers. 22 percent of all doctors will be involved in an automobile accident, all too often due to falling asleep at the wheel.

Depression and burnout are two mental health issues that medical practitioners struggle with, though most admit that due to the long hours, they can’t or don’t make time to get psychiatric treatment for them.

Physician wellness is a specialized psychiatric field because the causes for this depression and burnout are different than those found in other professions. The symptoms they exhibit can be dangerous to themselves, their co-workers, their families and their patients. Bullying nurses, lab technicians, and other hospital employees are too common, as is intimidation and even physical abuse.

Suffering doctors are reacting to the dehumanization of their work – their practices do not conform to the ideology that drew them to the field of medicine as a career. They are often unable to really connect with patients, or spend time getting to know and care about them as individuals. This has resulted in a “crisis of identity.” Rather than focusing on helping people, they are forced to live in a technological world where the dollar becomes more important than life and health.

With the problem defined, it is now critical that doctors begin modeling the healthy lifestyle they preach to their patients. They must get adequate exercise, eat right and get enough sleep to function at their best. And yes, they must find the time to seek help from psychiatrists for depression, anxiety, and burnout. Perhaps the answer to getting the healthcare system back on track must start with the doctors and physician wellness.

Bio: Sherry has 10 years experienced in nutrition industry and she likes to write article related diet-plans for weight loss. She has a popular website about waist training corset and results.

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