Saskatoon

Sask. doctors worried about burnout

According to the Saskatchewan Medical Association, 62 per cent of doctors surveyed feel at risk for burnout — stressed to the point of exhaustion.

Saskatoon expert says there is a clear definition

Dr. Anita Chakravarti works on physician wellness in the Saskatoon Health Region. (CBC)

According to the Saskatchewan Medical Association, 62 per cent of doctors surveyed feel at risk for burnout — stressed to the point of exhaustion.

If you've got nothing left to give, how do you make that connection to the patient?- Dr. Anita Chakravarti 

But what does that mean?

Saskatoon Dr. Anita Chakravarti works on physician wellness with the Saskatoon Health Region and the Saskatchewan Medical Association.

In an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning, Chakravarti pointed out that the results of the survey identify that physicians are not suffering burnout, but instead feel at risk. What the survey does indicate, she said, is that "that there are doctors who are highly stressed."

Burnout a concern for docs and patients 

So what exactly is at stake here? 

"Burnout means that there is emotional exhaustion…and a lowered sense of personal accomplishment, so it's very specific and that's not just for physicians, but for people," she said. "Depersonalization is another way of showing up in burnout…where you just disconnect, not only from patients but from other people too."

"With emotional exhaustion, if you've got nothing left to give, how do you make that connection with the patient?"

Chakravarti said the stakes are high and that helping physicians find a better work-life balance, and ways to better guard themselves against stress benefits the entire health care system from the doctors, right through to the patients.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health said much has been done over the last decade to improve the work-life balance for doctors in the province.

In a written statement, the government said that there has been an increase of nearly 650 doctors in the province — an increase of 36 per cent in the last 10 years.

Still, the province suggested that while the increase in the number of doctors has helped to relieve some of the pressures, there is more work to be done.

A total of 640 physicians completed the SMA survey, which was distributed by the association across Saskatchewan between Jan. 16 and Feb. 5. The association says the response rate represents about 19 per cent of practising physicians and trainees in the province.

The survey respondents were mainly split between specialists (45 per cent), family doctors (43 per cent) and students and residents (12 per cent), the association says.

with files from Saskatoon Morning

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