Burn out

As Doctor’s we focus the majority of our energy and resources into treating physical illness and disease, clearly this is fundamentally important but what about dis-ease that is less tangible?

First and foremost we are human, our own physical and emotional health often takes a back seat in the day to day care of patients. Who is there for us? What about our own physical and mental health?

We spend so much time looking after everyone else we often come second or further down the list. The irony…we look after others so well we forget to see about ourselves!

It started with good intentions, I tried to go to the gym in my first year or so as a junior on the wards, but this soon slipped, I was tired, lacked motivation and that common phrase we medics use, ‘I have no time!’ Soon I was nearly 10 years qualified, no more tennis, no more gym, no more music, nothing…all my creative passions had died. Laid to rest the moment I obtained my degree. This is not a unique experience, I am surrounded by colleagues who lament the life they left behind to pursue a career in medicine. We are not ungrateful I should say for the wonderful opportunity we have before us to make a real difference, but it comes often at a great personal cost.

The problem is compounded by the culture within medicine to not admit that we are struggling to cope with every day life. It is seen as a failure and we are not used to that as medics tend to be highly driven individuals who have always been high achievers. It’s a perfect storm really- a stressful career, long hours, poor work/life balance and not wanting to admit there is a problem. I’m sure you know of medics who have had time off with ‘stress’, Burn out, breakdown, depression etc, it is far more common than we think. I work in the UK and with new contract changes to juniors and an uncertain future there has never been a more unsettling time for us. The mood is generally despondent and morale low.

However, we cannot deliver our best to our patients if we are not living a meaningful, balanced, happy life as we will never be able to truly give 100% if our tank is running on empty. There are so many routes to take in life, it is not always the most trodden path that is best. Medics more than most know how fragile life is, one moment can change everything. We owe it to ourselves to live out our talents, pursue our passions and live the life we have always wanted.

Suit ton bonheur! Follow your bliss!



I am a physician that specialises in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine.

Having reached a point of burnout myself I decided to make some changes. I now live a healthier and happier life as a result and I hope that I can inspire other medics to do the same. Medicine is a demanding career and if we don’t look after our own health and wellbeing we won’t be in a position to serve others effectively.