A Happy Doctor Saves Lives

A happy doctor will practice better medicine. 

TheBMJ published a study this month, which highlights the problem or poor staffing on weekends. This can lead to worse outcomes for mothers and babies who deliver on the weekends. This did not surprise me at all. In part, I reduced my clinical work because I as exhausted! Even in my thirties, I didn’t have the physical, or emotional, stamina to work the hours that private practice demanded.

I was miserable. Not happy. I missed a delivery, the thirteenth baby born that weekend, simply because I literally could not get up.  The phone rung every–what felt like–few minutes. I remember answering and telling the nurse that I was on my way, but I would tell myself that I only needed five more minutes of rest before getting up. Actually, they called every two hours. But by day ten, I was long past my ability to be cognizant. More important, I was certainly in no condition to deliver a baby.

When I had my son, withdrawing from medicine became even more urgent

My son knocked over a standing lamp when he was nine months old. Pieces of glass came crashing to the floor. He was not hurt and there were no cuts on his body. As you can imagine, I felt terrible because I was alone with him in the house, and I fell asleep. Again, not happy.

The hospitalist model is a better system.

Having a baby in a hospital where a doctor is available “round-the-clock” makes a difference. Properly staffed and with fairly distributed shifts, this system of call could lend to a better work/life balance for obstetricians. Most importantly, the patients get care from doctors who are energized; who can think clearly; and who don’t feel emotionally depleted.

 

There you have it. Now spread the word.

Juliet MD

Juliet MD

 

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