Patient caseloads and other clinical demands, academic responsibilities, meetings and paperwork consume a physician’s time. Add personal commitments and obligations to the list, and the chances for burnout are high.
Physicians face unique challenges. The stress is all too real and, unfortunately, can sometimes lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts. The University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville wants to remind its faculty physicians, residents and fellows that resources are available if they ever need help.
Mark McIntosh, MD, an associate professor of emergency medicine and medical director of employee wellness at UF Health Jacksonville, heads a committee focusing on wellness that meets twice a month to discuss ways to improve support for physicians on campus.
“We want to help doctors take care of themselves,” McIntosh said. “As providers, we’re always giving, but too often, we don’t focus on our own needs. If you’re going to be involved in a career in medicine, you must understand the risks of burnout.”
In addition to reminding faculty of available services, such as the employee assistance program, the committee wants to help shed the stigma on mental illness and create an environment where people feel more comfortable seeking help for their problems.
“We’re really trying to change the culture and destigmatize mental health problems,” said Allison Ventura, PhD, a UF Health psychologist who serves on the committee. “In the medical world, there’s this ‘forget about your problems and just suck it up’ mentality. That mindset has to change. Let’s help each other, provide more mentoring and have more conversations about this.”