The Importance of Looking After Your Own Personal Health as a Medical Professional
The Importance of Looking After Your Own Personal Health
Part of looking after your patients involves looking after yourself. Click here to learn the importance of looking after your own personal health as a doctor.
The latest major medical crisis facing Ireland and the rest of the world isn’t a new form of cancer, drug addiction, or obesity-related illnesses.
Believe it or not, it’s actually medical professional burnout. You give everything you can to your patients. You sacrifice your time, your chance to sleep, your physical strength, and so much more.
But after a certain point? A lack of attention to your own health harms both you and your patients.
The truth is that you can’t provide the best care — or even the top medical advice — if you’re not looking after your personal health.
Focusing on and prioritizing your personal health issues is no longer something you can afford to ignore. Read on to learn more about why it matters and what you can do for yourself — and by extension, your patients.
What Is Personal Health and Burnout?
“Burnout” is a collection of the physical and emotional consequences of working yourself too hard for too long.
Feelings of exhaustion, stress, and even physical illness are quite common in the medical profession. However, it’s important to realize what’s at risk when you don’t take your personal health issues seriously.
When you neglect your personal health, you’re not just hurting yourself. You are, quite literally, also putting the health and even the lives of your patients at risk.
In fact, nearly 1,000 patients are killed each year in Ireland alone due to medical error. When you’re exhausted, you’re much more likely to make a mistake that could kill or seriously injure someone.
You don’t want to lose your license or be charged with a crime.
You also don’t want to have to rush through patients or give them poor medical advice because you’re too exhausted to think clearly.
Plus, if you’re in poor health, you’ll need to take more time off. You’ll also see your personal relationships compromised.
Know the Signs of Burnout
A shocking one in three doctors in Ireland will experience some sort of professional burnout.
Now that you know more about what it is, let’s talk about some of the major signs of burnout.
Some of these signs will be physically obvious, while others are more emotional in nature.
For example, you may realize that you feel full of self-doubt or guilt. Some medical professionals say they’re torn between feeling like they’re always failing their patients or doubting that they can really do anything to prolong their lives or help them.
You often find that you’re not as motivated to help patients as you were in the past. You may begin to withdraw from activities you once enjoyed outside of the office. Perhaps you snap at your orderlies or even patients’ families.
You might even increasingly start coming in late to work and leaving early.
In some cases, you feel physically exhausted all of the time. You’re worried you might make mistakes in your practice. Perhaps your team members have already had to correct you from making a dangerous error.
Many also turn to alcohol and drugs to numb the guilt, exhaustion, and sadness that burnout brings.
How to Take Better Care of Your Personal Health
If any of the above signs and symptoms sound familiar, you need to start taking your personal health care as a medical profession seriously.
If possible, start by taking a hard look at your schedule.
Is there any way you can shorten your shifts, or at least make your schedule a bit more consistent? What about your accessibility? Do you have to be on-call 24/7, or can someone else help you?
Consider going on a vacation if you haven’t taken one in a while. Your family and friends miss you, and you deserve the chance to be away from the hospital or your practice.
When you get home at the end of each workday — or before you go in — take the time for smaller self-care activities. This includes things like taking a bath, doing yoga, or taking the time to cook a real breakfast.
Engage in healthy after-work activities, too. Consider seeing a therapist or even joining a support group for those who deal with workplace stress. Talking about your problems with a professional will help.
Additionally, you need to pay more attention to your physical health.
When was the last time you went in for a checkup? Have you been eating well? What about exercising? How are you regulating your sleep schedule?
Hiring More Primary Care Professionals
If you’re in charge of your own clinic (or if you have a good relationship with the person who is) consider the idea of hiring more people.
The truth is that even the best and most dedicated physician simply can’t help each patient that walks through the door.
Hiring more doctors, nurses, assistants, and more will allow you to share the burden.
You’ll also be able to offer more services to your patients, in addition to having time to care for your personal health.
Don’t Neglect Your Personal Health Any Longer
We hope that this post has convinced you to begin taking your personal health as a medical professional much more seriously than you may be currently.
You owe it to both yourself and your patients to focus on caring for yourself. Taking time off, rearranging your schedule, and especially hiring more staff at your medical practice are essential steps to self-care.
We can help you to connect with the right people for your practice — and we make the process as easy as possible. Learn more about working in Ireland as a medical professional, and visit our job board to find better opportunities for you.
Keep relying on our blog for more invaluable advice about your medical career, as well.
Remember, your health deserves priority treatment.