What Is The Life-Work Balance Of A Doctor?
A TV programme I watched this morning brings me to dwell yet again, on the disruptions brought to bear on the life of the medical doctor as he, albeit in "connivance" with the law, and the society, strives to live up to his oath.
Such professional oath mandates him to put the life of his patient first, over and above everything else....including his own. He is sworn to "consecrate his life to the service of humanity".
His calling eats into his time so much that he often has little if any time for family, rest, exercise and social engagements. Even his spiritual commitments suffer. Ask yourself which takes precedence; a church service or even his daughter's wedding, and an emergency surgery at which he is the hospital expert.....
The very nature of medicine as a profession readily disrupts the Life-Work Balance of the doctor. Such state of affairs is particularly evident and extremely harrowing in young medical practitioners in supervised positions like house officers and junior residents who are levied with more than their fair share of the work. Their superiors are ever in the bully mode, blatantly averse to working hard enough to justify their (much) higher salaries and allowances.
Medical disciplinary bodies are ever eager to impose very harsh penalties on junior doctors, refusing to take cognizance of the fact that these persons are being "worked to death" already!
Ready examples can be found the recent board trial of a British doctor for sleeping off on call at night....and the Mexican house officer who dropped off to sleep at night while on call duty! These incidents are vivid illustrations of the fact that the supernatural performances expected of medical doctors know no borders!
As doctors attempt to so cheat nature, they abandon family and friends and the humongous workload takes a huge toll on their health. Yet, like a battery needing periodic charging after being used up, the doctor, a primal caretaker of health and saver of lives, needs such periodic rests, such physical, mental and social "recharging" to function optimally!
A true leader has been defined as that fellow who is able to achieve a healthy life-work balance.
So, as unrealistic professional, legal and societal expectations ruin his health and relationships, how can the doctor possibly give his best?
Dr Tosin Akindele is a medical practitioner and public affairs analyst.