By Russell Libby, MD
The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new dimension of stress for physicians. Most of us live with some degree of anxiety and occasional depression, and it might be argued that it reflects some of the traits that drive us to become physicians. Our altruism, intuitive and learned skills and work ethic create a high standard against which we measure our achievement and professional satisfaction. In the best of circumstances, we are challenged to find balance in our lives and are increasingly prone to burnout.
COVID-19 has impacted our personal safety and the potential for us to unknowingly infect others, especially those we live with and care most about. It has changed the way we practice, disrupting our routines and undermining our operational viability. It has imposed limitations on the care we provide and prevented us from doing all we can for our patients and their families or loved ones at a time they may need it most.
It is not in our nature to admit we cannot cope or adapt, but this added stress has pushed some of us beyond our limits. Even more difficult is recognizing when we are at risk of stress negatively impacting our physical and mental health and the quality of care we can provide. Why are we reluctant to seek help when we really need it most?
We cannot continue to ignore this problem…