Monday | 04 May | 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic presents doctors with many challenges and concerns.
Not only are doctors concerned about their patients’ wellbeing, but also about their own health, wellbeing and finances. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in doctors’ workload increasing, but it also leads to doctors often falling ill themselves and then having to be quarantined, which means they cannot help patients.
A considerable amount of research has already been conducted about the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic on health care workers. Depression, sleeplessness, anxiety and panic are but a few significant consequences of the pandemic.
Another great concern that doctors have, is that they can transfer the virus to their loved ones. This concern is exacerbated by the lack of protective medical equipment. When doctors isolate themselves from their loved ones, it can also have a greater impact on their emotional wellbeing.
With doctors working longer hours, it usually means that no attention is paid to basic needs, such as eating healthily or getting enough sleep. Attention should therefore be paid to the number of hours that doctors work and it should be ensured that enough time is available for rest. A lack of sufficient sleep accompanied by severe stress and tension can lead to mistakes, which of course can have a negative impact on patients and a doctor him/herself.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also emphasised that doctors have to take their mental health into consideration. It is quite normal to during this time feel under severe pressure and stress and accompanying emotions are not a reflection on whether or not a doctor can do his or her work.
The WHO draws attention to the fact that it is essential for doctors to during this time also take care of their own health. This includes strategies to cope with stress and also making sure they get enough rest and sleep between shifts. It also entails eating healthily, exercising and staying in contact with friends and family.
Doctors might decide themselves not to come into contact with family and friends due to the fear of spreading the virus. In some cases this request could come from family and friends, which makes an already challenging situation even more difficult. The WHO advises doctors to remain in contact via technology.
According to the WHO, it is also important for doctors to during this time receive support from colleagues. Colleagues are confronted with the same challenges and can advise one another on what they are doing to take care of their own wellbeing and to ensure that they don’t burn out.
Harvard Medical School: https://leanforward.hms.harvard.edu/2020/04/09/a-double-whammy-the-covid-19-pandemic-and-burnout-in-medical-professionals/
* All information was correct at the time of publication.