Do doctors have the worst jobs in America? Wait, that question doesn’t seem right. Aren’t doctors some of the most coveted people in the nation? That may be, but the fact is that doctors are often completely burnt out and exhausted from long hours, immense responsibility and environmental frustration.
Far from being the grand occupation it might seem from afar, the occupation of medical doctor is the second most suicidal occupation in America. According to one WebMD study, only 54% of 24,000 doctors surveyed said they would choose medicine as a career again. In another WebMD study of 12,000 doctors, a miniscule 6% described their morale as positive. Perhaps the most terrifying statistic of all is that approximately 300 doctors commit suicide annually. What is causing all of this exhaustion and frustration?
Firstly, an impossible workload. Doctors have always been overworked and unfortunately over the years their workload has only increased. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, nearly 50% of medical doctors work more than 60 hours per week, and in order to get through their patient list each day, most doctors have to see a new patient every 11-15 minutes.
This time frame doesn’t allow any doctor, no matter how competent, to fully understand their patient’s situation or generate a holistic treatment plan. This means that the quality of medical care decreases while the requirements for future care increase. Less preventative care given now means increased, and probably more involved, care needed in the future.
Secondly, the cooperation that is required between the medical profession and the insurance companies adds a level of frustration. Unfortunately the practice of medicine is often driven by the requirements of insurance companies rather than the needs of the patient. For instance, a doctor may be required by an insurance company to prescribe a certain generic prescription to his patient before he can prescribe the medicine that he knows will be more effective. This is an incredibly frustrating experience for the doctor because it keeps him from using his medical expertise and wastes additional time and money for both himself and his patient.
Thirdly, many of the technical tools provided to doctors are sub-par and outdated. The software many doctors use is inefficient and adds to the time they have to spend doing administrative tasks instead of seeing their patients.
Add to all of these elements the fact that doctors have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their education—which, as we have seen, they may not always be allowed to use—and you have a perfect recipe for the exhaustion and burnout that we see in the medical community today. It is unfortunate that a field built upon a desire to help others has become such a demoralizing environment for those who have invested their lives into doing just that.
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