When a student opts for the field of medicine, s/he is not opting for the career option that is like any other which their non-medico peers may choose. A medical student has to study for more number of years, settle down late and has to handle an ample amount of workload.
When their non-medico friends settle down early and have achieved a work-life balance, the doctors have different life trajectory altogether.
Many studies, conducted in recent years, show that doctor has to handle a lot of stress.
The Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine, in its recent survey, pointed out that doctors, especially those working in critical care units, are prone to higher stress due to various factors. These factors include higher mortality and morbidity, demanding service conditions, and need for higher knowledge and technical skill.
“By the time a doctor finishes his or her education as a specialist, they are nearing 35 easily. By this time most of their friends are sufficiently settled and earning good amount of money. Naturally it makes situation stressful for them as they juggle between professional and personal life,” said Dr Nikhil Datar, Medical Director of Cloud Nine hospital and a senior gynaecologist form Mumbai.
“The profession has become more stressful due to fractured doctor patient relationship. The fabric of faith is becoming thin. The society does not accept that health care is risky and human body is not yet fully understood as yet. People are quick on alleging negligence. Increasing assaults on doctors has made it very worrisome. The most intelligent brains are increasingly taking up medicine as career,” he added.
Dr KK Agarwal, Immediate Past President, Indian Medical Association (IMA), accepted that doctors, these days, are under stress. “We have a poor doctor-patient ratio in India. There are four types of patients – ignorant, informed, empowered and enlightened. As the proportion of enlightened patient increases, doctors will have to give more time in talking and explaining them about the diseases and in clearing their doubts.
He further mentioned, “These days, because the doctors are overburdened, the patients are not satisfied. Then it leads to conflicts between doctor and patient, which contribute to increased stress levels.”
Doctors working in the government sector too feel that these days, the work is more stressful than earlier times. A doctor working at Sassoon General Hospital in Pune, requesting anonymity, said, “There is no work-life balance for us. We even work on holidays. The resources are limited, but the workload is rising. We do not have any time for our personal life and personal care.”
While handling a patient, doctors are supposed to remain calm and composed and are not expected to be stressed, but in reality, this is not the case. Dr Tatyarao Lahane, dean of JJ Hospital, Mumbai, said, “Doctors are not supposed to work under stress, and not all doctors are stressed. There are some doctors, who want to earn money, and have their reasons to be under stress.”