Confessions from a Doctor on the Brink of Burnout
Doc Schmadia

Nadia, I think the statement that 78% of physicians in Ontario are burnt out is promoting a fallacy. In reality, the study says that 78% of physicians suffer from one or more symptoms of burnout at some point over the recent past. What simply quoting this number does not do is highlight that usually these symptoms are very transient and arise from the variety of our regular medical lives, ranging from being tired after a call shift, grieving when a patient dies or even just balancing life with kids against career against volunteer activities and more. This is symptomatic of the busy-ness of modern life, not limited to medicine. Ask any busy teacher/lawyer/engineer/CEO and you will hear stories of the same symptoms.
Saying that we are “burnt out” because of the activities of our daily life seems disingenuous. And it does not speak to the tremendous privilege we have in being involved in the best and worst of the human condition as physicians, the choices we voluntarily make, our incredible resilience and the sense of optimism that I think most of us still have about our work.
I believe that we are actually incredibly lucky to be able to do all of this, and typically very very well. Yes, I am challenged daily by my medical career and the complexities of the systems we work in, and many times I am really, really tired. But even with all of this I am most definitely NOT burned out, nor are, as far as I know, any of my friends, and most of these are doctors.
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