I truly believe that the public doesn’t understand what physicians do every day. We never had a reason to educate them before. All patients ever see is their doctors come into that small room, listen to their stories, hopefully give them some help, and then leave. Unfortunately, outside of that sterile box is where their physicians are constantly doing more and more work. A new survey mentioned in the American Medical News just came out and showed that eighty-seven percent of 2,069 physicians feel moderately or severely stressed or burned out daily. The top causes were the struggling economy (51.6%), health system reform (46.4%) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services policies (41.2%) As for the breakdown of the stressors in the workplace:
- 39.8% named paperwork and administrative demands
- 33.3% cited long work hours
- 26.2% cited on-call schedules and expectations
Fourteen percent of physicians said stress had caused them to leave a practice. Telling you this is not to gain sympathy for physicians. I get that doctors tend to be on the higher end of income earners in this country. The problem is that doctors are being drawn away from directly doing what they were trained to do; that is to see patients. No one wants to take a hit in their salary, doctors included, but physicians are really feeling the toll of new mandates, hoops, regulations, red tape and non-medical gauntlets which are causing them to lose sight on why they went into this profession. Some people may not care about the increasing stress on physicians. They should. It’s just like in an airplane with those oxygen masks that parents are told to put on themselves first and then put on their children. The reason for this is that if the caretaker struggles trying to help then it is probable that they both will perish. Similarly, in the healthcare system we need to take care of the caretakers appropriately (before they perish) so they in turn may take care of you.