At some point in their life, many people have heard the phrase “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day.” Passion driven individuals, those that thrive on an intellectual challenge, have that “thing” that makes them go. They tend to “do” for the sake of their passion versus “work.” For some, this advice of do what you love may not be the most practical or financially sound. However, for doctors, who see their work as a calling, it rings true.
Job Satisfaction Matters
A Sept. 10, 2012 article from the American Medical News website discusses a study which analyzed a national survey of 1,504 primary care physicians to see how satisfied physicians were when treating patients with chronic, challenging conditions, such as obesity or nicotine or alcohol addictions.
Symptoms of Doctor Stress & Burnout
The research letter, found in the Archives of Internal Medicine published on Aug. 27, 2012, found that physicians who saw medicine as a calling were more likely to feel satisfied when treating those disorders. This sense of enjoyment helped doctors from feeling burned out. Symptoms of doctor burnout include feelings of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, and nearly half of all physicians have symptoms of burnout, according to an Archives of Internal Medicine study published on Aug. 20, 2012.
What Causes Doctor Burnout?
It is very important to understand why physicians burn out, given that the feelings can affect how the physician treats his or her patients. The article states that physicians who feel burned out are more likely to blame their patients for these conditions. As a patient advocate, I recently received a call from a wife who had oversight of her husband’s health. The immediate serious “drama” was trying to decide what to do with a clot that was blocking blood flow to the leg. The wife was getting conflicting information from a variety of doctors. My point is not to explain the medical information but the response of one doctor:
“Why do you want a second opinion,” the doctor lashed out to the wife standing next to her husband. She said, “Because the other doctor told me his problem was a different diagnosis.” He replied, “Well if you don’t want to follow my direction you and your husband (bed ridden on all sorts of IV medications) can just leave and go to another hospital!” The doctor glares at the wife and snarls “and by the way your husband has cancer as well!” and the doctor stormed out of the room.
Find a Doctor Called to the Field
Clearly this exchange represents a doctor who is not happy and clearly under stress. As a patient, you want a doctor who will feel satisfied treating you. Doctors who feel more satisfied have better relationships with their patients. This can lead to more personal, effective treatment from your physician.
The article quotes study co-author John D. Yoon, MD, an assistant professor in the University of Chicago’s Section of Hospital Medicine and associate faculty member at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, as saying, “Previous research in calling has found that those who view work as a calling are more engaged with their work, spend more time working and view the job as more central to their lives.”
This in turn leads to higher quality of care from the physician and a more comfortable relationship between doctor and patient. Understanding how a physician’s reasons for going into medicine translate into how effectively he or she treats his or her patients can help lead to more effective, high quality care across the board. So if you want to enjoy, and truly benefit from, your trip to your doctor’s office, find a doctor who will enjoy treating you.
Thanks for reading!
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Rebecca S. Busch, Healthcare Advocate