Dr Ed Ellison’s Opinion On Physician Burnout

“In order to fulfill this noble calling to heal and save lives, they must first learn to heal and save their own, for the sake of their patients, for the sake of their families, for the sake of themselves. They must know this, they must believe this

After a low point of illness as a child, Dr Ed Ellison was moved by his pediatrician who showed kindness and compassion. It motivated him to become a doctor, a healer.

In his years of experience Dr Ellison has witnessed the dark side of medicine which is rarely discussed within the medical fraternity or otherwise. While encouraged to heal, but discouraged from seeking help for themselves – physicians are facing burnout. He feels that these “devoted perfectionists”, who work long hours without proper sleep, nutrition and exercise are ignoring their own pain and fear of failing.

“Doctors don’t ask for help, they soldier on and do whatever needs to be done to take care of their patients….if this isn’t addressed matters get worse…On an airplane before you help someone else, you put on your own oxygen masks, but doctors aren’t doing that and they are starving for oxygen, this is a big problem” 

Symptoms of burnout include emotional and physical exhaustion, insomnia, loss of focus and appetite, anxiety, depression or detachment. Burnout can be caused by several factors including long hours, loss of control over their work, and not being able to spend enough time with the patient. Eventually they are stressed to a point where they want to retire early or leave medicine or worse attempt suicide. A Mayo Clinic survey conducted between 2011 and 2014, showed the number of doctors suffering from burnout rose from 44% to 54%

Dr Ellison leads a medical group that intends to not only create great physicians but who can also take care of their own wellness, build support by connecting with each other, create healthy boundaries, and be informed of how proper nutrition can work for them too. There are lessons there for all healthcare professionals.

He asserts that not only dedicated healers are a necessity, but in order to help them succeed, communities and societies need to help care for them too. A useful piece of advice is that doctors need to be looked in the eye and thanked for what they do. They may not be good at accepting it, but showing appreciation and care matters to them too.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who care for someone and help them share too. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps caregivers going.  

As a healthcare professional, sharing your opinion helps reflect and influence the healthcare system at large. You can help bring back care into healthcare for the patients, fellow professionals and the family caregivers. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care… they aren’t alone but part of a team.

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Source: TED Talks: http://www.ted.com

This YouTube video has been curated by Caregiver Saathi. All Rights are Reserved with the original publisher and creators.

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