Overcoming Obstacles Throughout Your Medical Career
December 2, 2016
Even with all the new technology and advancements in medicine, there are always obstacles to overcome. Here are the certain challenges to prepare for during each stage of your medical career—including debt as a medical student, workplace violence as a resident, and advocacy as a physician.
Simple awareness of these obstacles will prepare you to not only cope better yourself, but to influence positive change in the field medicine from the inside out.
Debt as a medical student
With rising tuition costs, there is an ongoing debate over whether medical school is a worthwhile investment for aspiring physicians. On one hand, medical students will eventually be making six-figure salaries, but they will also be graduating with nearly six figures in debt. Not only is this disheartening on a personal and financial level, but from an industry-wide and socioeconomic viewpoint as well.
For example, high burnout rates and lower salaries will lead to fewer numbers of physicians overall, lower income families unable to afford tuition will lead to less diversity in the field, and the growing financial burden will lead to a more profit-based rather than people-based culture. As you can see, high debt among medical students takes a toll on the medical field as a whole. While you should not let money prevent you from pursuing your calling, it’s time we raise awareness of this issue to incentivize educational institutions to take on some of the yoke.
Workplace violence as a resident
After working so hard in medical school and matching in residency, the last thing you would expect is to be mistreated by the very clients you’ve dedicated your life to serving. Unfortunately, however, especially among residents working in the emergency department, this happens more than you think. A recent study conducted in NYC, showed alarming results: 65% of residents are victims of physical workplace violence by clients, 97% were victims of verbal harassment, and 51% were victims of sexual harassment by a client.
Out of the whole nursing staff, residents are the most vulnerable targets when it comes to workplace violence—not because they are less skilled but because they are less experienced with how to handle such incidences. While many incidences of workplace violence can be attributed to clients under the influence of drugs or alcohol, much more can be done on an institutional level to train residents in self-defence and violence prevention strategies, as well as put more security officers in place.
Advocacy as a physician
So you’re paying off your debt as a medical student and survived workplace violence as a resident—you should finally be revered as a physician, especially by the hospital that hired you, right? Well, not exactly. There’s a label institutions like to threaten physicians with to keep them in line and cooperative—“disruptive”. Ever since medical school, physicians have been trained to be team players and submit to authority. While this certainly serves a purpose, it can also lead to ethical dilemmas, feelings of burnout, and impede progress within an institution— negatively impacting both physicians and their clients.
Thomas D. Guastavino, MD explains, “Times are changing. As more and more physicians come to realize that being a “team player” has not worked as planned, they are finding that being “disruptive” may not be as bad or threatening as once thought.” Learn 8 Ways Doctors Create Change at Work, including putting client safety first, staying professional, understanding your obligations and where to draw the line. It’s important that physicians are not intimidated by their profession but rather be the change they wish to see within it.
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