Physicians (MDs and DOs) are struggling to survive, both professionally and personally. We are at high risk for personal, professional, and financial loss. We trained 11+ years and invested (by my account) half a million dollars’ worth of time, opportunity cost, education, and personal freedom to achieve the high goal of physician healer in our professions and in our community. Then, we found mounting stress from every angle that is constantly increasing in magnitude and intensity.
Physicians—like all caregivers, parents, grandparents alike—tend to put their responsibilities for the care of others before their personal responsibilities to themselves. I call this caregiver/physician syndrome. Most neglect their own health, diet, and exercise for decades to their own detriment. The physician suicide rate has been, estimated at 300 to400 physicians per year, since the first report in 1958. Physician suicide is a public health crisis as one million Americans lose their physician to suicide every year. It is the primary cause of death in male residents and the second highest killer of female residents after cancer, as reported by Pamela Wible, MD, who is an expert advocating ideal medical practice.
Lack of autonomy, assembly-line medicine, blaming physicians with words like “burnout,” and graduates who cannot find residencies, are all factors in the high suicide rate. Hospitals, training programs, and med schools cover up suicides to avoid, “bad press.” Physician burnout and remediation programs are all the rage but as Wible says, “Burnout is bull#@$%. This is abuse!”
Don’t be a victim. “Physician, heal thyself.”
Find your Motivation. Is it power, achievement, money, pleasure, family, giving, religion, or even guilt that motivates you? Pick your stimulus toward health. Planning, action, persistence, and time will improve your physical and mental health.