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Nobody in their right mind goes into a job as an ER doctor, believing that it will be a walk in the park. But some of the situations you find yourself managing are enough to drive anyone crazy. You frequently get to the end of the day and wonder how you managed to get through it. Worse still, when you get home, you can’t switch off, making it difficult to sleep and compounding problems for the next day.
Fortunately, a job in emergency medicine doesn’t need to be permanently stressful. Here’s how you can fight stress as an ER doctor.
When somebody comes into the ER with a gunshot wound, it can be difficult not to let your emotions affect you. You’re watching a human tragedy unfolding before your eyes. But a lot of experienced professionals and physicians associations push back against their feelings. While it is the natural response, it can also get in the way of patient care.
Related to how to fight stress as an ER doctor:
Experienced physicians practice what they call “professional detachment.” This cognitive strategy allows them to compartmentalize what is going on around them so that they can cope with the task at hand. It might seem callous at first, but it is essential. You need it to prevent burnout. Your job is to put people back together, not worry about their feelings. Being transparent with yourself on this distinction is vital.
Data suggests that ER doctors age about six years in their first year on the job. Stress shortens the caps on the end of their chromosomes, putting them at risk of developing chronic disease.
Lots of factors go into explaining this observation. The first is that most doctors don’t get much sleep for the first few years of their careers. They have to make do on five or six hours a night for weeks on end, cutting into their productivity. What’s more, the shift patterns themselves are not helpful. Doctors regularly work late into the night - past 10 pm in some circumstances.
Hospital food also leaves a lot to be desired. Few doctors have the energy to prepare their food for the day, so they wind up eating whatever is on offer. And sometimes, that’s complete junk.
Finally, doctors can find it challenging to find time to keep their fitness up. All of these factors affect their bodies negatively.
Some estimates suggest that doctors spend two-thirds of their day filling out forms and doing admin. That’s a lot of time not spent on patient care.
Doctors, therefore, should look for ways to automate everyday tasks. It could be something like using a chatbot to answer questions online or automatic documenting software. Whatever jobs you find yourself slaving over, find out whether there is a machine that can do it for you. If there is, use it!
ER doctors can sometimes delegate tasks to the people around them to reduce stress. Train admin staff to find out all the information you need about a patient before you see them. Explain that you need full records to provide the best care.
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