As patients, we often think of our health care providers as infallible beings who can easily handle their profession’s emotional and physical tolls. However, the reality is that health care professionals are human too, and they are not immune to the effects of burnout, depression, and even suicide.
One forgotten fact about our health care system is that providers are constantly exposed to the suffering of others and are faced with ethical-related stress on a daily basis. As a result, dealing with their own personal issues is often postponed due to long work hours and a dedication to putting their patients first.
Unfortunately, physician burnout and depression go hand in hand. According to a recent study, nearly 1 out of 5 doctors said they were depressed. Nearly half the group said that depression affects their interactions with patients, including being easily and intensely irritated and frustrated during encounters.
The statistics are even more alarming when it comes to suicide rates among health care professionals. Physicians are about two times more likely to take their own lives than the general population, and the rates are similarly high among nurses. Nearly 30 percent of new graduate nurses will experience burnout that leads them to leave the profession within two years, and suicide rates among female nurses are 24 percent higher than the average female.
It’s important to remember that health care professionals are not just trained professionals, but also human beings who have chosen a career to save and improve the lives of others. They deserve our compassion and gratitude, especially when dealing with their profession’s emotional toll.
So next time you see your health care provider or nurse, take a moment to show them your gratitude. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in reminding them that their hard work and dedication is appreciated and valued. Let’s ensure we care for those who take care of us.
Eddie Fatakhov is an internal medicine physician.