Mind The Medics part one

The GP raised her tired gaze to meet mine.

‘I just wanted it all to stop. The overwhelming revolving door of patients, the bureaucracy, the workplace politics, my home life. All that damn pressure all the damn time. I, I… I needed it to stop’.

Her eyes returned to concentrate on the loose filaments of cloth on her jacket sleeve that she had been picking at for the last thirty minutes. The room lapsed into a natural silence as my colleague and I scribbled down her pensive answers to our intrusive questioning. Questions that she too perhaps had used in her clinic room to weed out patients with mood symptoms severe enough that they might take an attempt on their lives… 

One comment

Lying in bed that evening,

I still felt unsettled by the vacuous look in the GP’s eyes as she recounted the episode of deliberate self-harm that had brought her into the Emergency Department. The dull sheen they projected could likely be explained by the generous amounts of sleeping tablets she had consumed but I knew the truth. She had reached a point of no return. As a ruler bends, bowing to the forces applied until it finally snaps, she could bow to the confounding stressors of a career that demands more, more, MORE no longer.

And I knew this truth because a year prior, after walking out of a hospital following a particularly intense 14 hour on-call shift and suffering an acute stress reaction, I had reached my own point of no return.

Ugh. I do hate sounding so vulnerable. Or even worse, melodramatic; which is how I assumed anyone who saw me that day crying and throwing up in the hospital car park

But there is absolutely nothing melodramatic about the growing numbers of Physicians globally reporting severe anxiety, depression and burnout directly related to the workplace, as discussed in the following Washington Post article.

Doctors are masters of disguise. Even fun-loving docs who crack jokes and make patients smile all day may be suffering in silence.

It’s an epidemic.

But I wonder why we are so hesitant to acknowledge it?

Part 2 coming soon


What are your thoughts about the current climate of Physician burnout and depression in the UK?

©️ Dr Reen Abroad 2018

1 comments on “Mind The Medics part one”

  1. We’re taught how to practice medicine, but are we ever taught how to manage stress? Are we ever taught to look out for signs in our colleagues?
    It feels like our health is seen as an after-thought, only relevant when it starts to interfere with our ability to carry out our tasks.


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