When it comes to expectations, there are few professions that rank as high as the medical field for the amount of weight on the pros’ shoulders. And that weight is firmly laid on them starting in their training.
But in this era of healthcare crisis, most patients have only a vague idea about the other side of the picture. It’s far more common for patients to complain about America’s broken medical system as being the fault of the physician than it is to recognize that doctors and other medical staff are mired in the same quagmire as everyone else -- if not more so.
The result can be detrimental to all the relationships involved in what is supposed to be a system that exists for the primary purpose of healing.
As a social worker for more than a decade, I witnessed the burden of medical professionals first-hand. And my comments here aren’t just opinion -- recent studies bear this out:
- Only 37% of physicians surveyed feel positively toward the future of their profession.
- Nearly half of them “often or always” feel burned out.
- Nearly half would not recommend the profession of medicine to their children.
- 80% have patient loads so big that they no longer have time for new patients.
~The Physicians Foundation 2016 Survey of American Physicians
The good news: Our beliefs that people become doctors because they want to help people -- turns out to be true, still.
And for most physicians, no matter how long they’ve been a doctor, their initial calling to the profession had something to do with a personal or family experience.
As a group, physicians rank their Top 3 professional challenges as
- Administrative burden
- Lack of time
Still, only 13 percent of all respondents indicated they had regularly questioned their decision to practice medicine – more than half of those cited burnout as their top reason for questioning.
Fortunately, there are abundant calls by various groups to institute changes in the profession, from training and beyond, to make medicine as livable a profession as it is revered. Until those changes unfold, the choices for wellness lay squarely in the hands of each individual physician.
There may be no realm of professional service where the old adage of "They don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care" is more true than in medicine. And more than ever, today’s doctors are being required to take charge and care for their own personal mental health and emotional wellness.