Self Care – Four Ways Physicians Can Stay Healthy
March 16, 2022
It goes without saying that physicians have been some of the most at-risk professions during the global pandemic.
A World Economic Forum report on COVID-19 occupational risks shows that the majority of healthcare workers have a COVID-19 risk score of 90 or higher.
Updated July 2023
Our contributed post this week looks at how healthcare practitioners can stay healthy despite the pressures of medical practice today.
The average COVID-19 risk score for all other professions is 30.2. Despite growing vaccination rates, staying close to possible COVID-19 cases within medical facilities increases physicians’ chances of contracting the virus.
And it’s not just COVID-19 that physicians need to look out for. The high demand for healthcare workers has increased physicians’ likelihood of being overworked or burned out.
The exhaustion they experience can make their physical and mental health more vulnerable.
Thus, physicians need to find ways to take better care of their health amidst the COVID-19 crisis. To help, we’ve discussed a few ways physicians’ self-care can protect against COVID-19 risks, mental health decline, and other physical health conditions.
Choose telemedicine over in-person clinic visits whenever possible. Aside from decreasing infection risks, choosing remote work also gives physicians more flexibility, which can help prevent burnout.
Physicians that want to venture into telemedicine without overworking themselves can also seek assistance from third-party telehealth companies.
The virtual care solution wheel can help physicians find remote work opportunities that match their expertise and ideal schedules.
When physicians sign up to Wheel, the company assesses their interests and experience and points them to appropriate partners.
With Wheel, physicians can work with a variety of care partners in a schedule that meets their energy and needs.
The physicians that continue to administer in-person care need to be strict about COVID-19 protocols even as more of the population gets vaccinated.
Always screen patients and possible visitors for symptoms before appointment dates and enforce the use of facemasks within the clinic premises.
Make sure sanitation tools, such as hand sanitiser and protective equipment for you and your personnel, are readily available.
According to the healthcare magazine Physician’s Practice, burnout affects up to 50% of today’s physicians.
Burnout is closely associated with serious mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
All physicians are held to a high standard as caretakers. Therefore many are reluctant to admit that they experience symptoms of poor mental health and need care.
It is, therefore, important to physicians self-care to ask for help when necessary.
Physicians can use Psycom.net’s mental health screening tools to determine whether they’re at risk.
If results hint at the possibility of anxiety, depression, or other disorders, then it might be time to seek confirmation from mental health professionals.
Counsellors and therapists can help physicians identify the root causes of burnout and select the appropriate coping strategies.
Regular exercise can strengthen your body’s defences.
Because exercise boosts endorphin production and lowers cortisol levels, it can also help in mood regulation, decreasing the likelihood of mental health decline.
Though physician schedules tend to be hectic, exercise should be worth making time for.
As we mention in our guide to ‘The Best 20 Ways to Fit Exercise into Your Daily Routine’, short exercises are better than no exercise at all.
If you cannot do 30 minutes of exercise, you can limit yourself to 15, then make up for it when you have the time.
You can start small, then lengthen your sessions when you’re ready to dedicate more of your time.
External factors, such as COVID-19 risks and the stress of working in healthcare amidst a global pandemic, have made physicians more vulnerable to both mental and physical health decline.
To protect their health, physicians’ self-care is a priority requiring changes in and out of the clinic.
Shifting to telemedicine, seeking professional help, and regular exercise can all help physicians mitigate health risks amidst the global health crisis.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and help promote quality healthcare. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
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