So, an important question to ask is, “how do we create an environment for physicians where there is a balance between professional obligations and the need for personal self-care?”.
I believe the culture of medicine must change and the general perception of physicians in general. In my own practice, over the years, I have said, “doctors are humans too.”
In hindsight, when I was younger and didn’t have the responsibility of being a parent, I used to call myself “superwoman” because I was a working machine. I was raised to work hard and to put aside my wishes for comfort. Plus, medicine rewarded those who worked long hours and put in the “extra mile.”
Physicians do not typically have the same protections that most employees have. I’m yet to run across a place that overtime rules, maximum continuous work hours, mandatory breaks, and personal accommodations apply to physicians.
I know pilots and truckers have rules as to how many hours they are allowed to work consecutively.
However, the professionals who make life-or-death decisions regarding patient care are not given this grace. As a society, we must deal with these questions.
No amount of pay is worth the sacrifice and risk from working at this breakneck speed.
Until we deal with this, I believe physicians will continue to have such high, alarming suicide rates.