On National Doctors’ Day, Ahmedabad Doctors tell us how they manage stress

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Ahmedabad, June 30, 2023: In a fast-paced world, stress has permeated every facet of our lives, affecting individuals across professions and age groups, from school-going children to working professionals. In this relentless pursuit of success and amid mounting pressures, doctors find themselves no exception to the growing tide of stress.

Stress among doctors is on the rise due to various factors like the demanding nature of their profession, rising societal expectations from the healthcare sector, growing burden of diseases, personal ambition, long working hours, and neglect of self-care.

Furthermore, the long hours and intense workload during the early years of practice also contribute to the stress faced especially by young doctors. Dr Jayesh Prajapati, Cathlab Director & Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad, explaining the unique stressors faced by young doctors said, “By the time young doctors complete their specialisation and super specialisation and start practicing, they are typically in their early thirties. Long working hours in their initial years of practice, along with immense peer pressure, contribute to elevated stress levels.”

Specialist doctors, such as cardiologists, work under immense pressure due to the nature of high-risk and time-sensitive surgeries they perform. Dr Prajapati emphasises the importance of having a dedicated and supportive team. “Dividing responsibilities and effective communication with the medical team involved in the surgery are key factors in reducing stress under such high-pressure situations,” he advises.

The growing access to healthcare, increased disposable incomes, and rising burden of diseases have resulted in a greater demand for medical services, placing a heavier load on doctors. Dr Sanjay Shah, Head – Department of Emergency & Trauma Surgeon, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad, said, “I forget I am having a headache or if my legs are hurting when I am treating a patient. Doctors often neglect their health concerns since their sole focus is on the well-being of their patients. This can contribute to heightened stress levels.”

During critical surgeries, effective stress management techniques are vital. Dr Shah suggests, “Detailed counselling with the patient’s family about the potential risks and consequences is crucial. This help doctors balance their emotions. Additionally, constant communication with the surgical team throughout the pre, during, and post-surgery stages helps manage stress. Despite meticulous preparation, there may be instances where the outcome of a procedure is not as expected. Therefore, doctors need to develop a high spiritual quotient to stay optimistic.”

Addressing and managing this stress is vital not only for the doctors’ well-being but also for the delivery of high-quality healthcare to patients. To alleviate stress, most operation theatres provide a doctor’s lounge or retreat where doctors can relax. Dr Maharshi Desai, Senior Physician and Critical Care Specialist, Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad, shares, “These spaces are equipped with amenities such as TVs, music systems, magazines, and books. Some doctors even practice meditation. While this may seem unfamiliar to a layperson, for surgeons, operations are a routine part of their work, and they approach them with confidence.”

“Having a hobby outside of work is important for doctors too. Doctors are extremely busy with their patients and hospital duties and seldom make time for their hobbies. It could be anything like painting, learning a new dance form, or reading. It is very essential for everyone to make time to de-stress, especially doctors,” Dr Desai added.

To manage stress effectively, doctors must prioritize self-care. Dr Prajapati recommends taking regular breaks from busy routines and ensuring at least two vacations per year. Engaging in activities such as yoga and meditation, exercising regularly to remain physically fit, and periodical check-ups can also help relieve stress. Furthermore, doctors need to acknowledge their vulnerability and consult medical experts rather than self-diagnosing. Dr Prajapati stresses the significance of seeking professional advice when necessary.

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