Let me start out by saying that doctors are humans too. They may have the skills and the technical know-how to save multiple people’s lives, but they too have their own limits.
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And with the demanding environment in the medical field today, the rate of burnout on professionals in the medical field might continue to increase and impact the overall effectiveness of the health care system.
A great deal of ink has been spilled on the causes of burnout and the reasons for its rapidly increasing prevalence. But if you look at the underlying currents that shape the ways health care has changed in recent decades, there is one persistent trend. This trend is a plausible contender for the biggest cause of increased burnout: the dramatic fall in physician autonomy.
Hectic sixteen-hour shifts (at least) put a lot of pressure on doctors to accomplish their tasks and with the kinds of restrictions and procedures that they need to abide by, doctors have less control over how they do their job.
But if that were the case, why don’t we see any changes to the current system? Why don’t doctors simply demand for better schedules or more autonomy? Well, the reason is pretty simple. They are “supposed” to be selfless and not care about their personal interests over the greater good of the public.
No one thinks very highly of the doctor who objects to a quality improvement project on the grounds that it reduces her independence. We’re all supposed to focus on the quality of the care we provide, and if the best way to improve care is to reduce autonomy, that’s a trade we should all be happy to make. At some point, though, reductions in autonomy negatively impact care.
If the people we go to and consult about our physical ailments themselves are not able to take care of their health, how can we expect them to provide the care that we need? Doctors are humans too. They need to be treated as such.
(Image credit: Doximity)