This week Insight speaks with junior doctors and nurses to ask, ‘How can we provide better care for those who care for us?’
What is it like being a new medical professional in a hospital? How do you cope with the long days, high stakes, death and trauma?
For many junior doctors, like Karla, the stress of the job takes a mental and physical toll.
“I was having some insomnia which I’d never had before and I started having what I later found out to be anxiety attacks,” she tells Insight’s Jenny Brockie.
Mental health organisation Beyondblue surveyed more than 12,000 doctors in 2013 and found those in training were almost twice as likely to cite very high levels of psychological distress compared to senior doctors.*
A 2009 survey published in the Medical Journal of Australia also showed 71 per cent of junior doctors were concerned about their physical or mental health**. Coronial records show 20 doctors took their own lives between 2007 and 2016 in New South Wales alone.***
Likewise, nurses – particularly female nurses – also have high rates of mental distress. A 2016 study of suicides over 12 years found female nurses and midwives had a suicide rate almost triple that of women in non-health professions.
While emergency situations are a source of pressure, Lizzy, a GP registrar tells Insight that it’s the fatigue that comes with long hours and few breaks that causes strain. “It wears you down quite a bit to not get enough food into you, not enough water, not enough sleep at night, and back there again.”
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