The Health Care System is at the Verge of Collapse, and it's Time for a Change
The health care system is on 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 that 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 a 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 for self-care, before the pandemic. Physicians have to take ownership of their health, and it must be done collectively. The culture shifts must come from the top down. Many people take timely access to health care for granted, but honestly, this will be more challenging for the health care system to fulfill these expectations.
The issues of physician work-life balance isn't an isolated issue. 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. The culture shifts must come from the top-down, and it's time for a change in how we approach health care as well- not just physicians but society too! This is something that needs to be addressed at the societal level.
It's time for a change in how we approach health care as well- not just physicians but society too! Sugarcoating 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.
Let's all took our health seriously and made it a priority. Physicians could refocus their practices more on optimizing their patients' lives rather than saving them from an impending health crisis. There will not be enough healthcare staff and health spending dollars if things continue on the current path. If society were restructured so that healthy lifestyles are encouraged and rewarded, things would get better over time.
As a physician, I would love it if I hardly had to prescribe 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 alcohol consumption 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, though I could 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 in 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 on the verge of collapse. I had pushed and pushed for over a decade, with minimal regard for my health. I took the "patient-centered care" approach too far, forgetting that I, too, was a patient. I constantly worked, feeling the pressures of being a physician and also the owner of 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 had step away from my practice and let others on the team take care of my physician role. However, I couldn't wholly unwind, as, like many of you, I wore many hats, and the business owner hat cannot be completely shut off. My most important role, a 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 to find myself.
I can honestly 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.