No one ever said that being a doctor was easy. These professionals work long, exhausting hours, often experience crazy levels of stress while on the job, and basically just have a lot of weight and worry on their shoulders. All of these stresses can lead to something known as “burnout.”
Burnout,in case you are not familiar with the term, is when someone is physically, emotionally, and/or mentally drained. It’s when a person’s job is causing them so much stress and worry that they’re not really enjoying life as they should. And, while burnout can definitely be a bad and unpleasant thing for the doctors who experience it, the really scary thing is that it can also negatively impact patients as well.
Doctors, as you well know, are tasked with making tough decisions, sometimes life or death decisions, every day. As a result, they always have to be alert, aware, and clear-headed. When they’re not..which can often occur due to burnout and high stress levels, there’s a greater likelihood of a wrong diagnosis, a fatal mistake, or some other error that constitutes malpractice.
Doctors who are experiencing burnout are encouraged to take breaks and vacations as needed and to try and find positive ways to deal with their stress. On the other side, patients are encouraged to always be as alert and aware as they possibly can, to demand only the best care, and to report any concerns that they may have immediately.
While there is no way to totally eliminate the risks associated with doctor burnout, being aware of it and actively fighting against it can be very helpful.