Burnout - Reaching a Work-Life Balance
“For goodness sake, consider what you do, How you may hurt yourself ay, utterly"
Henry VIII Act III Scene 1, William Shakespeare
Our students launched the third edition of the UCD Student Medical Journal with a stimulating panel discussion on burnout and work-life balance at the UCD Student Centre on Tuesday 26th April 2016. Chaired by NUIG Medicine graduate, Dr Gavin Jennings (RTE Radio), the panel comprised:
- Dr Lynda Sisson, HR Lead for Staff Health & Wellbeing & Occupational Health, HSE
- Dr Rhona Mahony, Master, National Maternity Hospital
- Dr Denise Sadlier, UCD Senior Lecturer & Consultant Nephrologist at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital
- Dr Sylvester Mooney, General Practitioner & Founder, Webdoctor
Each of the panellists offered personal observations on the stresses under which healthcare professionals work, their coping strategies and the supports that available to doctors. Despite being very successful in their careers, the panel reflected on a sense of being besieged within a healthcare environment increasingly depleted of resource and with increasing society expectations. The fear of making a mistake or missing a crucial diagnosis combined with their strong sense of professional responsibility were major contributing factors to their stress levels. Despite herculean efforts, they reported a strong sense that their profession was not valued which adds to the sense of burnout.
They noted that as a profession, doctors are slow to seek help and that many physicians don’t have their own GP or seek occupational health support. The panel noted that building personal resilience and the support of their colleagues were critically important to avoiding burnout. They also reflected the different challenges which measures like the European Working Time Directive will have for the young doctor in training today – not the least, ensuring that the doctor delivers to his/her own high professional standards within a shorter working day. Not surprisingly the panel were also questioned on their opinions on the ongoing NHS Junior Doctors’ strike.
Notwithstanding the pressures each encounter, all members of the panel reported very strong job satisfaction and strongly advocated a career in medicine. Noting the privilege of being trusted to provide patient care, they reminded the audience that despite the media focus on medical misadventure, the majority of care is delivered well by a dedicated team of professional staff.
The UCD Student Medical Journal is now available in hard copy and online. It contains original research articles, case reports and reviews with features on the James Coakley Medal for Dissection, how to really listen to patients, coping with bereavement, the future of artificial intelligence in healthcare and an interview with Anne Lawlor (22q11 Ireland) on genetic and rare diseases in Ireland. The editorial team have invited contributors and volunteers for the fourth edition for which planning is now underway.