Stress and Burnout among Medical Residents
Physicians and surgeons arguably have the most
difficult jobs. Not only is their education rigorous, intense, and
lengthy, they often work extended hours in highly charged environments.
Add the emotional stress that comes from patient interactions, and you
have the perfect recipe for physician burnout.
The problem is particularly challenging for young
doctors who are still learning the details of the medical profession.
While in residency, new physicians may work uninterrupted shifts of up
to 16 hours, and young doctors are often obligated to perform procedures
that veteran physicians prefer to avoid. The long hours and draining
work can create such intense pressure that mental, physical, and
emotional exhaustion becomes inevitable.
Time magazine published a revealing article
about the stress junior doctors endure. The article details the
numerous difficulties with depression these young physicians face. One
shocking figure: while medical students have the same rate of depression
as the general population (4%), this number jumps to a quarter of all
medical residency interns beginning in PGY1 (first post-graduate year).
Of even greater concern is that fewer than 25% of
depressed residents seek help for their stress and depression. Although
this reluctance to address their problems is understandable when
considering that residents often feel pressured to be perfect in so many
ways: flawless on examinations, correct in all diagnoses, and
error-free in treatment plans. Added to this pressure is the fact that
residents have almost no free time to pursue counseling or therapy.
What Can Be Done for Medical Residents?
Short of a complete overhaul of the residency system,
which does not appear to be on the horizon, medical residents will
continue to experience significant stress and high rates of depression.
Sadly, many of these residents will turn to abuse of medications or
illicit drugs to cope with their problems. Some take even more drastic
measures. But there are safer and more effective options.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is one of these options. Now legal in all 50 states, CBD oil has proven to deliver beneficial effects
for anxiety and sleep quality. Of course, these benefits are especially
crucial to overworked medical and surgical residents. CBD oil can also
help with mood enhancement, which can combat depressive symptoms.
Unlike benzodiazepines and other controlled
substances, CBD alone will not cause impaired judgment. Unlike THC, CBD
is not psychoactive. This is why it is important for doctors to choose a
CBD oil that is THC-free, like MARK3 Full-Spectrum CBD Oil. When
on-call or treating patients, doctors cannot afford to be under the
influence of any substance.
A support network is another crucial tool for
residents to use in managing their stress. With extended work hours, it
can be difficult to maintain such a network. Compounding the problem is
the fact that many residents move away from their homes for their
residencies. Still, it is worth the effort to try and maintain social
interactions with friends and family, even if that contact is mostly
limited to phone calls and text messages.
Finally, residents should make use of their hospital
or residency counseling services. Professional help can make all the
difference, and residency programs have mechanisms in place to help
those in need.