Operating as a medical professional will see an individual encounter a raft of challenges that is unique to their field.
Whilst it is a fundamental and necessary profession that sees people restored to health and given their due care, there are stresses and strains that have to be discussed openly.
This is particularly relevant when it comes to the domain of doctors on call, a 24/7 cycle of rotation that sees trained and experienced experts enter the hospital, office or specialised medical facility when the phone rings.
From pediatric care to cardiology and all manner of physical and mental illnesses that must be diagnosed and treated, senior doctors and registrars alike are required to be available to undertake surgeries and repairs when necessary.
So who or what is in place to care after those who give us care?
This might be an important follow up question, as we delve into the issues that arise for on call doctors in your area.
Lack of Sleep
Fortunately with rotating rosters, there are measures in place to ensure that doctors on call are not extending themselves for long periods. However, there are scenarios in rural communities and other regions where the physician on hand is the only expert for that particular field within a certain area. This means that late night calls and early morning visitations are a common occurrence and professionals can be working long stretches for 15-20 hour stretches before sleeping. Needless to say that all doctors recommend approximately 8 hours sleep per night to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and even though there is a physical and mental adjustment that takes place, this is still an unhealthy scenario if it is routine that is recycled continuously.
No Genuine Financial Incentive
The reality of the situation is that there is next to no financial incentive for medical professionals to be available as doctors on call. Feedback from those who have been on rosters illustrates that some remuneration is given for GPs from insurance companies, but they are better served for the sake of their own revenue to invest in a specialised practice that is open during business hours. This can vary form specialist to specialist, yet it is evident that this line of work is not for their personal financial benefit.
Needless Call Outs
What should constitute an emergency to require doctors on call can sometimes fall well short of that definition. This is a frustrating experience for many operators who are already in a state of alert and stress. Patients might not be aware of the inherent demands that are placed on these practitioners and it is important that they understand when it is appropriate to head to the hospital between regular business hours.
Limited Movements or Freedoms
Doctors on call are in a position where they cannot venture further than a limited distance from the parameter around the hospital. As they can be waiting by the phone to don their medical gear and arrive ready for work, the ability to have a lovely glass of wine, to attend a movie or book a short weekend vacation is simply off the table. This limitation can be incredibly debilitating for people who are looking for some form of release from a grueling schedule.
It is only by discussing the issues that arise with doctors on call can communities, private practices and government bodies come together to offer safeguards, insurance policies and programs that allow these professionals to look after us. It is easy to overlook how much faith is invested in the local doctor and team of nurses, but they should also be considered and cared for with their own wellbeing standing as a priority.