Saturday, January 07, 2017

Why are doctors getting burnt out ?

The general perception is that doctors are extremely hard working. Most patients both admire how busy doctors are and resent this as well - especially when they have to wait for hours to see them. Because they are so rushed, they don't have enough time to listen to their patients, or to explain the basics properly to them. Most doctors seem to always be running around from clinic to clinic, and hospital to hospital . Even a doctor's own family members resent the fact that his life is so stressful because he always seem to be on the go, and is on call 24/7.

While it is true that good doctors are extremely busy because there's always going to be a lot of demand for skilled doctors, the fact of the matter is that one of the reasons why many doctors are so overworked is because they don't manage their time very well.

It's true that some of these problems are out of the doctor's control. Thus, if you work at a government hospital where you need to see over 200 patients in the clinic in 2 hours, you really don't have a choice , because you have to see all of them. However, sometimes these problems are self-inflicted.
This is especially true for doctors in private practice who run around from one clinic to another , simply in order to maximize their income . They are very competitive, and want to set up clinics in many different suburbs, because they feel they need to go to where the patients are in order to grab patients from other doctors. This is why they spend so much time stuck in traffic, commuting from one clinic to another. What a waste !

Instead, if they chose to focus on just one clinic and waited for patients to come to them, they wouldn't be so needlessly " busy" because they wouldn't be wasting their precious time. Not only would this be much better for them, it would be much better for their patients as well. A happy, contented, stress-free doctor is going to be far more compassionate and empathetic than one who's running around all the time.
This is something which doctors need to learn - how to say no. They don't have to keep on seeing more patients every single day; and they don't need to compete with their colleagues to find out who's the richest or the busiest. They need to be able to find the right work-life balance, rather than participate in a mindless rat race.

Even in a government hospital, the doctor needs to learn how to delegate, so that his juniors can screen patients. Part of the problem is that most doctors are not good team players. They feel that they have to do everything themselves, as a result of which they end up micromanaging their staff, and doing stuff which ideally they should be getting either a junior doctor or their secretary or their receptionist to be doing. It's not necessary for a doctor to do everything himself from A to Z. The administrative tasks - for example, issuing receipts; collecting payments; giving appointments; and doing follow up calls are best entrusted to a junior doctor or an assistant. This will free up the doctor's precious time, so that he can focus on doing the one thing which he does the best - taking care of his patients.

This unproductive use of his precious time ends up hurting him as well, because he feels professionally unfulfilled. This is one of the reasons burnout has become such a huge problem among doctors today.

The truth is that a lot of their work is just "busy work" , which they shouldn't be wasting their time doing, because it's best done by someone else on their team. Sadly, doctors continue getting away with their inability to manage their time properly, because their patients put up with this. Let's not forget that doctors can make patients wait for hours on end only because their patients allow them to do this to them. If all of them refused to accept this disrespectful waste of their time, the doctor would be left with no patients to see, and he would be forced to improve his behaviour very quickly !

The good news is that doctors can use technology intelligently in order to make sure that the time they spend with their patients is utilized effectively. Instead of being extremely busy and accomplishing very little, they can use their time productively, efficiently, and effectively. There are lots of productivity and time management tools which will help them to do so , but unfortunately most doctors don't learn how to use these.

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