Tuesday, May 22, 2018

More Bad News about Neurologists

Today I learned that not only is there a shortage of neurologists in the United States, but a large percentage of the neurologists available are suffering burnout.

The article I saw is really disheartening.

It makes me feel bad for myself. It makes me feel bad for other people who have neurological issues. And it makes me feel bad for the neurologists and their families.

I only skimmed through the article before.

Now I'm going to read it more closely.


The article says that burnout can cause doctors to harm patients because they lack empathy and make errors.

I need to expect that if/when I finally see a neurologist that she's probably not going to act like she cares about me or my symptoms. She'll probably act bored and annoyed, not because she's a bitch. But she's probably thinking about how she's exhausted and doesn't see her partner and/or children enough. OR if she's single, she might be thinking about how she's so behind on Netflix and has had no time to go on dates.

As for some of the causes of burnout, the article mentions financial pressure to see too many patients and technology that is not user-friendly.

I know from experience that technology can make life easier and better, but it also can make life harder.  I think technological savvy people pressure the rest of us to use more and more advanced computers. THEY think it's easy to use, so they assume it will be easy for us too. OR they don't care if it's easy for us. Their idea is is if we have problems, we'll pay and/or beg them to help us.  They have control and we are lost.

I was reading an old Livejournal entry a few days ago. I talked about being furious, because Tim and my dad thought it would be a good idea for me to upgrade my video editing technology. I had been perfectly content with the old, but they believed I needed something new. The new was much harder to navigate.  Eventually I was able to handle it, but the experience was frustrating.

Imagine being an overworked doctor with too many patients and then having to deal with difficult technologies.  It doesn't paint a pretty picture in my head.

Well, here's a depressing line from the article. A neurologist says,  I now take the Monday off after working the whole weekend so I can reboot from the emotional exhaustion. I often take Wednesdays off the other weeks, which allows me to get the kids to their orthodontic appointments, catch up on laundry, complete my CME, and finish paperwork from the office. I have found that even though my income has taken a hit from taking this time off, my mental wellbeing is stronger for it.

How the fuck is that taking time off?  Catching up on laundry? Taking kids to appointments? Finishing paperwork?


Taking time off is taking a walk, getting a massage, watching Netflix, playing a video game, going out for ice-cream, Hanging out at the beach....

I wonder, though, if the doctor DOES do fun and relaxing things, but is ashamed to admit it. Our society has such a Protestant work ethic.  Often people are afraid to admit that they take time to relax and enjoy life. 

Now I'm going to read about what can be done to lessen all this burnout.

Probably nothing, really.

But it's sweet that people are trying to come up with solutions.

One idea listed is for doctors to join professional organizations. Yeah! So on that weekend they could have gone on that short cruise, they'll instead be attending a work conference. 

I guess there could be some positives. Being with other people who share your interests and tribulations may be therapeutic.  On the other hand, what if you end up conversing with some asshole who has this need to prove that he's more awesome at neurology than you are?

The article suggests that having advanced nurses could help. I do agree with this one. It can lessen the workload, and it provides more attention to the patient. When we went to see doctor's office to get the referral, we saw the physician assistant instead of the doctor. I think, because, it was easier to get an appointment.

The physician assistant spent a lot of time with us. If we had seen the doctor, he might have been more rushed. 

Anyway, if the time comes that I finally see a neurologist, I shall try to be sympathetic towards them. I will try to be patient and understanding.  I will also try not to take any of their rudeness, impatience, coldness, etc. personally. 

Oh, and on a brighter note. The neurologist I've been assigned to IS open about doing fun things. She lists her hobbies as cooking, dancing, and outdoor activities. That's cool. Cooking can be seen as a chore, but for other people it's a fun, relaxing thing. I don't think the same can be said for laundry or driving to orthodontist appointments. UNLESS...you have a crush on your child's orthodontist.  If that's the case, those appointments might be your favorite leisure activity.

The other doctor in the practice likes fishing, traveling, and riding a motorcycle. I sure hope she wears a helmet!  Being a neurologist, it would be ironic if she didn't. But I once knew a respiratory therapist who smoked.  So.....