01 July 2010
By Radha Sharma
Most medical professionals lead stressful lives and fail to follow their own prescription, reports
Renowned cancer surgeon Dr Rajan Tankshali thinks nothing about putting in a marathon 12 to 14 hours of work daily, most of which includes standing with spine bent over in the operation theatre performing critical surgeries. His biggest grouse is that the ever–growing professional commitments leave him with little time to change his own lifestyle.
Dr Tankshali had suffered chest pain while performing a surgery a few years ago. When it refused to go away for a long time, he went for a check up and was diagnosed with block in his heart artery.
Despite good intentions, Dr Tankshali confesses he has not been able to make the desirable lifestyle changes. "I would like to take regular, low fat meals but when critical surgeries take long, lunch is usually fried snacks and dinner is often late after hectic rounds spread over three to four hospitals," he says.
Like Dr Tankshali, there is a growing number of doctors who confess that they need to actually follow their own prescription for good health – less stress, exercise, regular meals and seven to eight hours of sleep.
Practising in corporate hospitals has only added to the stress where majority doctors now shuttle between hospitals where their patients are admitted.
Medical fraternity admits that almost every doctor works for an average 12 hours daily. If there are more patients and emergencies, the work timings could be more erratic, stretching upto 14 to 16 hours. For most doctors working as consultants in numerous hospitals, the day begins at 8 am but does not end till night.
No wonder, there has been a spurt in the number of young doctors succumbing to sudden heart attacks, many undergoing procedures for heart blockages. "Stress is a chief contributing factor here. Immense pressure of work, cut–throat competition and poor lifestyle has rendered doctors vulnerable to stress," says cardiologist Dr Sameer Dani.
"We may like to believe that doctors are superhumans but they are like any other people susceptible to stress. Like in other professions, stress is increasing in medical profession too," says Dr Tejas Patel, who feels that medical professionals need to take time out for themselves and make a commitment towards their health. Psychiatrist Dr Mrugesh Vaishnav says doctors know what is to be done. And while they might be quick in diagnosing and giving a prescription to their patients, they tend to be careless when it comes to themselves.
Dr Vaishnav himself confesses he has been struggling to lose weight but is not able to find time despite having a treadmill at home.
"I often skip lunch as I feel morally obliged to patients sitting for consultancy and cannot walk out for a lunch break," says Dr Vaishnav who routinely works for 12 to 13 hours.
A preventive cardiologist, who diagnosed himself of blockages in time and got them treated through angioplasty, says that prevention is possible but doctors need to get committed. "I knew I had high cholesterol but avoided taking medication as it would give me acidity. But, regular checks can set off the alarm in time," he says.
- Work an average 12 hours daily
- Grab less than six hours of sleep
- Shuttle between two to three hospitals
- Confess to skipping lunch or having a runaway snack
- Have late dinners
Health Check Up
Programmes For Doctors
The HCG–Medisurge Hospitals has organised a mandatory complete health check up for their doctors as part of Doctor’s Day on Thursday. "We acknowledge the hectic lifestyles most doctors lead where they tend to ignore their own health. Hence, we have organised this check up to prompt doctors to get annual updates about their health," said CEO of the hospital Dr Bharat Gadhvi. Dr Prafull Pawar of Apollo Hospital, Bhat – that has launched the ‘billion beating hearts’ initiative to create awareness about stress and heart disease – said that they will ask their doctors to make at least one lifestyle change to make it more healthy.