Physician leaders across the United States are speaking out to raise awareness about depression and suicide among their colleagues, and to encourage those experiencing burnout to seek help.
Healthcare practice can generate a particularly stressful workplace, to the point where an estimated 300‑400 physicians each year commit suicide. A group of physicians has put together a petition urging the Association of Amerian Medical Colleges and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to help stem the tide of depression in residency, where FiercePracticeManagement has reported these problems frequently begin.
During the recent national Day of Solidarity, Craig M. Wax, D.O., a family physician who spoke in Philadelphia, encouraged his peers that “our daily personal health has to be paramount, before we can care for others effectively.” According to a variety of voices from across the country, that’s a message doctors aren’t hearing nearly enough, particularly during residency:
- Elisabeth Poorman, M.D, told CommonHealth she and other residents failed to seek help for depression early because she feared the judgment of her peers. She said doctors would tell her that feeling terrible was simply part of residency. “I think that’s a really dangerous message,” she says. “It was certainly a dangerous message for me.”
- Akshay Roy, a student at Rowan University School of Medicine, told CBS Philly that he attended the Day of Solidarity in memory of a fellow student who committed suicide. “I can see where the stress just builds up and really takes a toll on mental health,” he said.
- Remembering a colleague who committed suicide, Don Milligan, M.D., urged students at an event in Kansas City to speak up and watch out for one another, according to The Kansas City Star. His friend, who played zydeco and jazz tuba, had laughed with him on the phone the morning he died, prompting Milligan to remind students that signs of trouble aren’t always obvious. “Laughter doesn’t mean you’re not depressed,” he told them.