Doctors Are Not Following Their Own Advice—And They Are Burning Out

Doctors Are Not Following Their Own Advice—And They Are Burning Out

Doctors are known for giving advice about healthy living—to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and downtime, and to enjoy healthy relationships, exercise, meditation and gratitude practices, but do they follow it? The answer is—not as much as they should. Over 50 percent of doctors are suffering from symptoms of occupational burnout, which can be prevented in most cases with healthy habits.

Doctors that have burnout can feel tired, irritable, feel like they are not good at their jobs, and have trouble with relationships, among other symptoms. Studies show, not surprisingly, that burned out doctors do not take care of patients as well as doctors that are not burned out. So, why don’t doctors follow their own advice? Well, in part it is because doctors aren’t taught from the beginning that taking care of himself or herself is part of being a good doctor.

While doctors spend time in medical school and residency learning about how to take care of patients, they learn very little about taking care of themselves. The culture in medicine is one of self-sacrifice from the very beginning, with medical students spending long hours studying and in the hospitals and clinics to learn how to care for patients. The overall expectation from the profession is that self-care habits, such as exercise, enough rest, and other healthy habits are squeezed around the edges, if at all. As the young doctors go into residency, the work gets harder and they work harder, picking up meals on the go, and working even more nights and weekends.

After residency, doctors go into practice and have to deal with additional pressures such as running a business if they are in their own practice, and dealing with insurance companies. All of this takes doctors away from what really lights them up, which is caring for patients. Is it any surprise that they are getting burned out? Fortunately, there is a trend and changes in the culture in the medical profession. Doctors are realizing that in order to do what they love—taking care of patients—to the best of their ability, they need to follow the same advice that they give to patients and take care of their own health as well.

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