The Doctor Is Out: The Stress of the Profession

Locum Tenens There’s no debate: doctors are among the highest-paid professionals in the world. In the United States, they have an annual income of $189,000. This goes up when they specialize in fields such as surgery. They also have the option to work in a variety of fields. They can serve in the public setting or establish a private practice.

Becoming a doctor, though, is a tough job. In fact, it’s one of the most stressful professions, but how stressful can it get?

Death among Surgeons?

A surgeon’s job means working around 50 to 60 hours a week. This doesn’t include the time spent during on call services. Depending on your specialty, this on-call service may be once a week or many times a day.

A medical resident may have to work for about 100 hours a week, and sometimes one needs to report in different shifts. This and more increase the level of stress among healthcare professionals.

This stress may then cause the increased risk of diseases and suicide among the group. In one survey with about 80,000 doctor respondents, 501 said they had suicidal thoughts the year before. Possibly adding to the risk is the easy access to harmful medications.

While doctors can always get professional help for stress and mental health, they fear reporting it. Rather, they are more likely to self-medicate.

Doing a Job with Less Stress

If you’re feeling the intense pressure of being a surgeon, know you have another option. You don’t have to leave your field either. You can be a locum tenens doctor.

What is the meaning of being a locum tenens physician? It means you fill for somebody else’s job. If a doctor is absent, you work on behalf of him or her. This temporary job lasts for about 6 months to a year. Sometimes, it’s very short, or you’re on call.

This setup benefits doctors in two primary ways. You can feel assured that if you take a rest, somebody qualified can take over your work. On the other hand, if you want a longer vacation, you can try temporary staffing and work only when you’re needed.

Being a doctor is rewarding, but it should not mean abusing your body and mind. Explore your options and make sure you maintain work-life balance.