Improving physician well-being is a shared responsibility
For months, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that, as physicians, we need to band together to effect change within the healthcare system. Of course, behind this stance by the QMA lie issues of access, health funding, and population health management. But, first and foremost, it’s a question of survival!
Physicians are paying a very steep price for the chaos that’s currently plaguing the system. Beyond the shortcomings in the healthcare system and the compassion fatigue inherent to our profession, we’re facing a workload as heavy as it is misunderstood by most people. But that’s not all: We’re also dealing with an increasing number of administrative restrictions, not to mention the expectations of our families and patients, and now those of the general public, as well.
There’s no way we’ll ever be able to measure up. While most of us manage to cope with the situation one way or another, sadly, others lose their way. I just read an article about the suicide rate among doctors that said that we’re still, in this day and age, afraid to get help because of the stigma attached to mental illness.
The article also mentions a survey of more than 2,000 physician-mothers. Close to half of them believed they met the criteria for a mental illness at some point in their careers, but had never sought help. And only 6% who received a formal diagnosis reported it to their licensing boards. And when it comes to mental illness, it’s a known fact that men are even less likely to consult. As a profession, we need to change the way we approach the health and well-being of doctors.
While the community has been mainly focused up to this point on what each individual physician is capable of doing, it’s really a shared responsibility.
Our profession is at a crossroads. The Québec Health Record is a major undertaking, and the closer we get to the provincial elections, the louder the rhetoric is apt to get. And “doctor bashing” makes us an easy target, which is why it’s so important that we stand united in finding concrete solutions and in taking care of ourselves as a community.
Just as professionalism is a shared responsibility, improving the health and well-bring of physicians is something that concerns us all. By taking a positive leadership role, we’ll be able to support our colleagues, make our practice settings into healthier workplaces, and engage in the discussions needed to overhaul the healthcare system.
On behalf of the AMQ, I’d like to urge you all to take care of yourselves.
Dr. Hugo Viens, B.Sc., M.D., FRCSC
President, Québec Medical Association