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By Nahille Natour, MD
It was my third trip to the hospital that day.
I had a few patients in labor to check on and while I was there, I was called to the ER due to the premature delivery of non-viable twins.
Luckily the deliveries were uncomplicated, but any time there’s a pregnancy loss, attention to the emotional must accompany the physical care of a patient.
And so you answer questions asked between tears. You express your mutual grief. You provide resources and you encourage use of available support. While you can’t take away her pain, you give all that you have.
Once I get home, I crumple onto the couch to catch the 10 p.m. newscast and I remember that I have to catch up on the day's charts.
It was a tough day - preceded by tough days and followed by tough days.
And while not every day involves a loss, caring for patients requires a tremendous amount of energy. Helping patients make difficult decisions, advocating for their interests with insurance companies, finding ways for them to afford medication - and all the while lending an empathetic ear and clicking away on your keyboard in an electronic record.
If doctors don’t have a way to replenish and invigorate their souls on a regular basis, they can quickly find that they don't have any more left to give.
This recurrent depletion of energy quickly leads to emotional exhaustion, which is one of the components of burnout. The Medscape Lifestyle Report 2017 surveyed physicians of all specialties, and of the responders who were obstetrician/gynecologists, 56% reported that they were burned out. Further, a recent study showed that 36% of OB/GYNs suffer high levels of emotional exhaustion.
Why is this important? Multiple studies have shown that when physicians are burned out, productivity and quality of care declines, medical errors increase, patient satisfaction decreases and doctors leave the work force.
How do we make improvements? Many organizations have started physician wellness programs to address this issue. And while the picture of wellness differs from person to person, there are a few things all of us can do.
Set priorities and boundaries. Participate in activities that you enjoy and stay connected with your community, friends, and family.
I had a tough time doing this on my own; luckily I was able to transition to a position as an OB hospitalist with Ob Hospitalist Group. My schedule is flexible and when I’m off, I am free to take care of me.
It is a liberating feeling knowing that when my shift is over, I will be going home and I won’t be taking work with me. I still enjoy plenty of continuity with patients, but I don’t have to worry about declining reimbursements and office staff.
Joining Ob Hospitalist Group was a solution that kept me in clinical medicine and helped me rediscover my passions - both within and outside the hospital.
This blog provides general information and discussion about healthcare-related subjects. The content and linked materials provided are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader is an expectant mother with a medical concern, she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or healthcare provider.
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