Saturday, November 15, 2008

Transferring your stress

I attended a meeting last weekend. It was a pain meeting but one of the talks was on "stress management in the pain provider". It was a talk I looked forward to when I looked at the program first thing in the morning. The presenter is a physician who works for the medical association's physician help program and in addition writes articles that I have always enjoyed reading.

I was disappointed.

Right from the start, this doctor (who is younger than me) stated that his practice was currently restricted to weekend locum coverage and surgical assists. During the talk he casually mentioned his interesting travels, his winter "retreat" in the New Mexico desert and the fact that he never works on his wife's birthday.


The solution to stress for all of us is:

Work part-time but also only chose work that you really like when you feel like it.
Take lots of vacation.

Now I work more or less full-time both as an anaesthesiologist and also as a chronic pain doctor. This is by choice, anaesthesia is one of the specialties where part-time work is a viable option. I also take between 6-10 weeks of vacation depending on how things shake out. Sometimes my work is stressful, I can't say for sure whether it is more or less stressful than 25 years ago.

But imagine now if all the doctors decided they were going to work part-time and only do work that suited them. Aside from needing 2-3 times more doctors, what about the patients and work that doesn't suit anybody. Who sees these patients.

Our expert in stress is not alone however. There are becoming more and more doctors who are working part-time, refusing to take patients with chronic diseases, refusing to work evenings or weekends (in fairness our expert apparently only works weekends which are a pain but you do get paid more). This is causing more stress on those of us who are old school and believed that you take the good cases with the bad and that real doctors still work evenings and weekends.

Anyway I hope our expert in stress is able to put his honorarium to good use and maybe he can do fewer weekends or maybe take off his neighbour's birthdays. I hope he is thankful to the taxpayers who subsidized his education so that he can work part-time,to mention the individual who didn't get into medical school so that he could, and the physicians in his community who have picked up his slack.

And I am no further along in managing my stress

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