While the medical field attracts our best and brightest minds, doctors don't get higher grades when it comes to coping with stress.
The Canadian Medical Education journal found that, "Medical students had higher perceived stress, negative coping, and lower resilience" than the general population.
Tanya Keogh is just months away from finishing her medical residency. But she says the years it took to get where she is weren’t easy.
“In medical school I juggled three jobs and running with my studies, so I did know I would work really hard and I knew what that meant, but I don't think I realized the level of responsibility and stress that would be placed on me every single day,” she said.
Dr. Keogh will see around 20 patients in the run of a day at a family practice, and her pager is never far away.
“I’m on call for the IWK, for obstetrics, for any family medicine patients, as well for the nursing home we work with,” Dr. Keogh said.
According to the Canadian Medical Education Journal, "Training to become a physician....can be detrimental to one's health." It cites "heavy academic workloads," "sleep disruption," "on-call schedules," and "exposure to life and death situations" as just some of the culprits.
On top of that are heavy debt loads. A medical degree from Dalhousie University costs upwards of $80,000.
Dr. Carolyn Thompson has become a sounding board for medical students and residents in her practice, and also in her role as the director of the professional support program with Doctors Nova Scotia.
“Probably the most common things they see us for are stress, burn out, anxiety over the workload,” said Dr. Thompson.
Studies show that physicians are at particular risk of mental health issues. Ten per cent have suicidal thoughts, and an astounding 50 per cent of all medical trainees experience symptoms of burnout.