The health care system is at the verge of collapse. The reality is, physicians and other health care providers have been exhausted, frustrated, long before COVID 19 pandemic surfaced. Long, unreasonable work hours have been a norm from the beginning. Medicine has a culture which glorifies excess hours, and total loss of work life balance. This isn't sustainable.
The COVID 19 pandemic has been a full on sprint for well over year now, and it's not going to stop anytime soon either. This disregard for balance, isn’t something that can be sustained or tolerated, in the long term. Physicians were already exhausted from working unreasonable hours with little regard of self care, prior to the pandemic. Physicians have to take ownership of their own health, and it must be done collectively. The culture shifts must come from top down. Many people take timely access to health care for granted, but honestly, this is going to be more challenging for the health care system to fufill these expectations.
The issues of physician work life balance isn't an isolated issues. As a society, we are living longer, and people are aging with complex medical conditions, that decades ago, used to result in a shortened life expectancy. This is something that needs to be addressed at the societal level. The culture shifts must come from top down, and it's time for a change in how we approach health care as well- not just physicians but society too!
It's time for a change in how we approach health care as well- not just physicians but society too! Sugar coating the real issues and underlying problems inst' going to solve anything. The reality is, the current state of affairs isn't sustainable anymore - it never was really.
If we all took our health seriously and made it a priority, physicians could refocus their practices more to how to optimize their patients lives, rather to save them from an impending health crisis. There will not be enough resources , from healthcare staff and health spending dollars if things continue on the current path. If society was restructured in such a way that healthy lifestyles are encouraged, and rewarded, over time, things would get better.
As a physician, I would love it if I hardly had to write a prescription for diabetes or hypertension drugs. Do you know that certain cancers are directly linked to alcohol consumption? Yes, this might, not sound appealing in a society that associates consumption of alcohol with celebrations, status, a right of passage and so much more. Or how about our obesigenic society, where fast, fried, calorie dense foods are available for ordering right from our phones. We don't even have to drive to a drive through to get our dose of high fat, crispy deliciousness. It can come directly to our door.
Long gone are the days when we were hunters and gatherers. Interestingly, societies that still maintained this lifestyle have lower rates of heart disease and obesity. I'm very guilty of being lazy in my approach to food, thought I can thankfully say I've made huge improvements over the past year. I do have "love handles" , that resurfaced during the pandemic, that I'm currently working on "shrinking". So when I coach others, I'm also coaching myself, and reminding myself that I need to do the right thing. I'm a firm believer of practicing what one preaches, though it isn't always easy. I'm far from perfect and I will admit when I'm wrong.
Like the health care system, I was once at the verge of collapse. I had pushed and pushed for over a decade, with very little regard for my own health. I took the "patient centered care" approach too far, forgetting that I too was a patient. I worked constantly, feeling the pressures of being a physician and also owner of a medical practice. The physician role had its own unique set of responsibilities ,and mixed with the challenges of business ownership,being a woman, life was complex. Then, after the birth of my second child, a cascade of potentially catastrophic events in my life and my child's life, eventually led to burnout. I literally had to walk away from my practice, and let others on the team take care of my physician role. However, I wasn't able to completely unwind. Like many of you, I wore many hats, and the business owner hat, cannot be completely shut off. My most important role, which is human being first; then mother, was threatened to the point, where I couldn't remain on defense, so, I made the hard choice, and took a break , so I could find myself.
Now that I've taken the steps to reclaim my life, I can honestly can say I have never been this happy before. Each day is an opportunity for growth and recovery. A rested and well nourished body is a more productive, peaceful body. For those of you who have taken the time to read this blog post to the end, you owe it to yourself, to make your health and wellness, your number one priority.