Has Stress Burned You Out?

Greg A. Hood, MD

Disclosures

September 28, 2016

In This Article

All for the Love of Medicine

There are choices, of course: simply gripe about it, go into denial that the situation isn't so bad, or make changes. Most physicians have had designs on entering medicine since childhood. Even if there's a sense that one is ready to move on, there's an additional emotional toll when such a long-enduring sense of self-identity is challenged. The intensity of this emotional burden can be just as heavy whether you feel it's clearly time to move on or if you're unsure.

Most of the doctors I know who have gone through this transition still carry a sense of regret into their new endeavors. Divorcing oneself from the physician-patient relationship is difficult, as ingrained as is the wish to help others. An unquenchable sense of leaving when the job is unfinished can be difficult to reconcile.

Generally, when transitions are clear and easier, it's because the individual (the physician, in this case) has maintained an extended view of their long-term personal goals and is able to make a change that still aligns with these goals. As those in healthcare have, at their core, both an immediate and a long-term goal of helping people, it can be profoundly difficult to find another vocation that meets this goal to a comparable extent. Many physicians can't "see" that they're unhappy with their job until someone else points it out to them. It's no wonder that concierge forms of medical practice hold great appeal to these particular physicians.

A prime allure of concierge medicine is time. Physicians tend to spend too much time "at work," whether it's physically at the office or hospital or outside of work, tethered to electronic devices. They may feel unhappy and even stay up at night thinking, "What should I do?" They may seek advice from friends and family, only to remain unconvinced because the well-intentioned advice—even if correct—doesn't come from someone in medicine. These conflicted, often disgruntled doctors tell me that they're often loathe to discuss their dilemma with other physicians and colleagues for fear that their doubts will leak out into the local medical community. They may truly know the answer, which always involves change. The difficult part is making the change itself.

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