Burnout and associated mental health issues are distressingly common amongst Australian doctors

Dear Colleagues

Despite our interesting and often rewarding jobs, burnout and associated mental health issues are distressingly common amongst Australian doctors and indeed doctors around the world. A recent survey of US physicians found burnout in just over 51% of doctors.

One of the major factors associated with burnout was found to be a low sense of personal accomplishment.

A major reason for the formation of the Twice the Doctor foundation was to help guard against burnout.

The reasoning was as follows:

I am feeling a bit stressed or even depressed and often feel that much of what I do is “process- driven” or defensive medicine. I spend quite a lot of time on allaying unnecessary anxiety born of misinformation from friends and relatives or debunking google searches. I do lots and lots of paperwork.

Question: 

What can I do to make my work more meaningful/rewarding?

Answer: 

I will do volunteering work in Africa like I always imagined I would when I first contemplated medicine as a career. I will be working on really sick and relatively young patients and I will be really appreciated.

Problems:

  1.  I can’t just do highly meaningful medical work in the developing world because I don’t really have the particular skills required.
  1.  I can’t just go for a few weeks. Enquires made with Medecins Sans Frontieres (SF) reveal that I need to spend a minimum of 9 months initially unless I have certain special skills (e.g. anaesthetist, obstetrician).

Solution:  After further research and enquiries I found that the best way I personally could make the greatest difference to some of the most needful patients in the world using my medical skills was to “volunteer” in my own office and use the proceeds of my medical activities to fund highly effective and efficient medical work in the developing world.

This adds significantly to my sense of medical accomplishment so not surprisingly it is a great remedy for, or firewall against burnout.

                                                             www.twicethedoctor.org

Regards to all

 

Rob Baume

On behalf of the Directors of Twice the Doctor Foundation

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