Dr. Joseph Sirven: Rinse, Wash, Regard

By Dr. Joseph Sirven
Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - 10:29am
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It’s a brand new year filled with promise, hope and that annual ritual of making a resolution. 

Many of us will make health related resolutions like losing weight, or more exercising. How about making 2015 the year that you demand more time with your doctor, and let your doctor know when you’re happy about the services they deliver.

Here’s why: A recent national survey of doctors looking at the issue of career burnout found that close to 50 percent of physicians reported at least one symptom of burnout.  Burnout is bad because it leads loss of interest, which leads to medical errors and for the doctor themselves- depression and suicide.    

Emergency room doctors, internists and then neurologists were among the three highest groups to report symptoms of burnout. There are a lot of reasons for this. Most physicians now work for larger groups like insurance companies and hospitals when we used to work for ourselves. As a result, medicine is more corporate with demands of seeing more patients, and doing it in less time. By the way, be caring and attentive while you’re at it.

Lost in all of this is the well-being of the doctor. Did you know that pilots, for instance, are only allowed to work a certain amount of time? Is this the future for doctors? I hope so.

So here is what you could do: Preventing burnout starts by being appreciated. Let your doctor and their bosses know when they have done a great job. If your doctor doesn’t have enough time for you, tell their bosses that they need more time.

This is the only way that changes will occur. If we prevent burnout, we keep you, and me, healthier. So just like those instructions for shampoo, you know rinse, wash, repeat. This is the year for rinse, wash, and regard. 

Dr. Sirven is a KJZZ commentator and the Chairman of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic