Celebrated on July 1 every year, National Doctor’s Day offers a wonderful opportunity for the society to express gratitude towards the selfless services of a doctor, commitment, and marvellous efforts they put in for the betterment of humankind.

But did you ever give a thought that the person who takes care of our health every day may be suffering from stress and burnout?

It is true doctors save our lives every day, at the same time we cannot overlook the fact that they seldom take a break.All over the world, doctors have gruelling work schedules as they always go the extra mile to treat their patients. A doctors’ whole day is spent while performing numerous tasks and duties, right from overseeing patients, performing surgeries, going for field visits, to attending events and conferences. Even after this, they need to be ready for emergencies and also balance their personal lives. It wouldn’t be outlandish to say that unlike other professions, it is expected from doctors to be available round the clock.

Unquestionably, doctors derive immense satisfaction from helping patients recover from their illness. This also underlines that stress levels amongst doctors remain high due to the opposing nature of their work and lifestyle, which further makes them prone to burnout. Statistics reveal the high stress levels amongst the doctors. In a country like India, where there is just one doctor for 2000 people, doctors face extra stress due to the immense workload. A study published in the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine revealed that four out of every 10 doctors in India suffer from moderate to severe stress levels due to shortage of specialists in the hospitals. 21% doctors take alcohol, 18% depend on anxiolytic or anti-depressants and 14% smoke to combat stress. The study found that the critical care specialists have higher stress levels owing to long working hours, high mortality rates in the ICU and the responsibility of having to care for high-profile patients.

Not just in India, the story of stressed out doctors is found even in developed nations like the United Kingdom. UK Royal College of Anesthetists (RCoA) survey on the working lives of 2,300 trainee anaesthetists has found that 85% of doctors are at risk of becoming burned out, despite only being in their 20s and 30s. The survey participants identified long hours, fears about patient safety, working night shifts and long work commutes as key factors for their increased stress levels. According to the survey, almost two out of three young hospital doctors said their physical or mental health is being damaged because of work pressures. Many are so busy that they go through entire shifts without eating or drinking while others suffer from stress, burnout, exhaustion and sleeping problems.

As a community, we must take such instances seriously and help the tired and stressed out doctors by taking the following small but significant steps:

● When the doctor writes the prescription, we should pay attention and understand the medication and its dosage to avoid confusion rather than making frantic calls later during the course of the treatment.

● We should always complete the course of medication as prescribed, especially antibiotics. Stopping medication early can lead to relapse of disease and put unnecessary stress on not only a patient but on the doctor too.

● We should avoid calling the doctor in late hours unless absolutely necessary as they too deserve some privacy.

The need of the hour is that the society should have a more compassionate outlook towards a doctor and his life. At the same time, medical fraternity too should try to reduce the doctors’ workload by taking the right measures. HealthCare atHOME acknowledges the contribution of doctors to the society and wishes they also get a day off every week to rejuvenate and relax. Extend your support for this noble cause by taking a pledge at: www.hcah.in/doctorsday

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