“Whether it be reflected in drug use, alcoholism, [or] the fact that we have between 350 and 400 physicians who commit suicide each year, [this information] tells you that we defer our own health and wellness to the benefit of multiple constituencies: family, friends, patients.”
Explore this issue:March 2018
During the comment segment of the session, Albert Merati, MD, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle, said that he took six weeks off two years ago, and it was the most important thing he could have done for his career. He encouraged others to take time off as well when they feel they need it. “The only thing I regret was not doing it earlier,” he said. “I was never going to refuel in flight. It changed my life, and I wish I hadn’t waited 17 years.”
Cynthia Chen, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at Nemours, said that, as a younger faculty member, she has certain advantages when it comes to avoiding burnout. Younger faculty are more comfortable with the technology physicians have to use today, she said. She is married and has two children, but is careful about maintaining a work-life balance. She said she thinks that’s true of younger physicians in general. “We’re very conscious about lifestyle and making sure that we take care of our families,” she said. Additionally, as a woman, she added, “I think it helps that a lot of otolaryngologists are female now. We all know that the landscape is changing.”
Tom Collins is a freelance medical writer based in Florida.