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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 39  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 107-108

Stress in clinicians

Department of Surgery, J. N. Medical College, Belgaum, India

Date of Web Publication11-Jan-2013

Correspondence Address:
Ashok Godhi
Department of Surgery, J. N. Medical College, Belgaum
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-5009.105910

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How to cite this article:
Godhi A. Stress in clinicians. J Sci Soc 2012;39:107-8

How to cite this URL:
Godhi A. Stress in clinicians. J Sci Soc [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Oct 5];39:107-8. Available from: https://www.jscisociety.com/text.asp?2012/39/3/107/105910

Stress levels in clinicians are higher than in the other professionals. The anxiety, depression, and suicides are the morbid manifestations of inability to cope with the stress. Overwork, basic nature of the profession involving risk to human lives, looking after the sick and dying patients, increasing expectation of the patients from the medicine which is inaccurate, science errors which are blown out of proportion by the media, and moral and ethical pressures are among some of the reasons for the high levels of stress found in the practicing physicians.

The common man looks up to the doctors as divine equivalence. In his opinion, the doctor has to make an accurate diagnosis and treat him successfully no matter what the disease is; failure to cure is viewed as failure of the doctor, he should have unlimited time for the patient, endless patience, infinite energy without fatigue, he should be accessible all the time, and has no right to refuse to treat the sick. Hippocratic indoctrination during the training period of the medico and continued thereafter will tempt the doctors to try to live up to these unrealistic expectations, which results in stress.

Doctors as humans are vulnerable to errors, and the medicine, which is a science of probabilities and possibilities, increases this vulnerability. Many errors may not have significant impact on the outcome of the treatment, but some are disastrous. Doctors are aware of their own mistakes, and feel guilty even when nobody notices them. Errors are likely to occur when the circumstances or the relatives force the clinicians to do more than what they can. Majority of the clinicians experience varying grades of tension and anxiety due to the fear of morbidity or mortality (on account of misdiagnosis, under-diagnosis, under-treatment or wrong treatment), the consumer protection act, media showing such errors in bad light, and loss of reputation among the peers and public have additive effect on the stress levels of the physicians.

The clinicians practicing alone are known to feel more tensed than those practicing in groups, where the tension is shared by the group members who derive support from each other. One-man nursing homes are more lucrative, but the prosperity may be offset by the heavy responsibility, anxiety, and stress. It is the ardent desire of all clinicians to become popular having busy practice; however, many doctors who have worked hard for many years to develop good practice have finally felt overwhelmed, overloaded, and overworked. Of late, group practice has been more popular among the younger generations presumably for the same reason. Quality of care is also better in the group-practice nursing homes than in one-man nursing homes.

The members of the doctors' family also feel the effects of the stressed clinician. Many non-medical spouses feel that the doctors are physically exhausted, emotionally drained, irritable, susceptible to argument on their return to home; they are less interested in casual talk, resent hearing about the problems of the children, and have less quality family time together. These effects are proportionate to the demands of the speciality and the popularity of the clinician.

The stress and its effects like anxiety, depression, and the most serious of all- suicide, are to be weighed against the positive facets of busy and popular clinical practice like expression of appreciation and gratitude by the patients, professional satisfaction, and happiness of successfully treating the patients, and monetary gains.

Many clinicians may not know that they are stressed and the stress is the cause of their anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendency. Instead of treating the cause (learning to cope with stress) some may take refuge to drugs and alcohol with detrimental effects on the physical health. The stressful life of the doctor begins during the student period and that is perhaps the best time to teach them how to de-stress, like pursuing hobbies, games, yoga, spirituality, personality development, and other recreational activities, which help them build their emotional reserves and recharge it rapidly when it is depleted.


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