Being a healthcare professional can be gratifying, but it also comes with challenges and stresses that can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Late nights, long hours, heavy workloads, high expectations, and complex environments are just some of the many factors that can put any medical professional at risk of depression and burnout.
Not surprisingly, many healthcare professionals are facing physical and mental health issues. More than 400 healthcare professionals commit suicide every year, a rate more than dobule that of the general population. Burned out physicians are twice as likely to make medical errors, the third leading cause of death in the United States. Physician burnout is costing the U.S. healthcare industry $17 billion in annual turnover costs.
For physicians, stress is inevitable. This is because they understand their decisions have high stakes, and there is no room for mistakes.
With expectations set so high, it is not surprising that a majority of physicians struggle with mental and physical illness. In fact, according to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), almost one-third of doctors going through residency training were depressed or exhibited symptoms of depression.
But what exactly is physician wellness?
Does wellness mean the absence of any disease? Do you think if someone is well, he or she has no illness? If you answered yes, your perception is part of the larger problem.
Evaluations like these are usually based on perception, but mental illness can present in anyone, despite outward appearances. Don’t let the noble profession, physical appearance or upper-class lifestyle fool you. Many in the healthcare industry are used to dealing with the daily stresses and know how to appear cool, calm, and collected while potentially flailing beneath the surface.
Physician wellness refers to when physicians are reflecting on or self-evaluating their own well-being. Physician wellness is more than just the absence of illness. It is about maximizing their quality of life. It is about improving the quality of their relationships with their patients, family, and friends.
Physician wellness also includes all of the factors that affect physicians' psychological and social health, and minimizes the spread of chronic diseases. These diseases may include mental illness, physical disabilities or injuries resulting from work hazards, and occupational stress or burnout.
Focusing on wellness not only benefits the individual provider, but is also vital for the delivery of high-quality healthcare. Healthy and well-balanced physicians can make better caregivers. They are more likely to be more empathetic and set healthy lifestyle examples for patients and less likely to make mistakes.