The Clown in the Surgery is Crying
Posted: 13 February, 2012 by Colin Adamson
Do you see the same male doctor regularly? Does he work full-time in a group practice? Has he been practicing for less than 20 years? If the answer to all those questions is ‘yes’ – he may be in bad shape – a burnt-out case. A survey of GPs reported in the BMJ showed high levels of emotional exhaustion and ‘depersonalisation’ as well as low levels of personal accomplishment. ‘Depersonalisation’ may need a bit of explanation – the people taking part in this survey were reckoned to to be suffering from it if they said that they had become more callous over time in their response to people coming to see them. Female GPs get the blues less.
Patients Don’t Notice
And the kicker is that you the patient will probably not notice. In this case, the GP’s clown mask hides the pain too well. The advice for you as a patient on how to avoid putting your health in the hands of the poker faced and emotionally exhausted is to put your faith in a part-time woman doctor or a GP running his or her own practice. Either way, try not go and see her/him too regularly or ask for them all the time. The survey did not ask the question whether getting involved in commissioning would cure those blues – at least it might get doctors away from those pesky patients from time to time. Or like Querry in Graham Greene’s ‘A Burnt-out Case’, the affected GPs could go and work with lepers in the jungle although of course (spoiler) that does not end particularly well either.Tweet