Thursday, November 15, 2007

Emergency Medicine, Stress, and the Pleasures of a Few Days Off

The GruntDoc describes how strangely relaxing it is to have a few days off from his job as an emergency medicine (EM) physician. In his moment of clarity, he associates that bliss with the fact that he's no longer juggling multiple, simultaneous, urgent demands on his time.

The feelings he's describing are pretty well-known among time management experts. Engaging in multitasking is a major stressor (not to mention an impediment to efficiency). Given his field, he probably understands this better than most people.

He should be glad that when he IS on duty, his days aren't consistently like those depicted in the TV show E.R. I've had many nonmedical friends ask if working in an ER is really that stressful. I'm not an EM doc but as a hospitalist working at a large, busy county hospital, when teaching on the wards, I spend much of my day in ER's and ICU's and my sense is this: the show seems to concentrate a month or so of excitement in one eight hour shift.

I tell my friends that at that pace, the average mortal wouldn't be able to drag him or herself out of bed for the next shift after a month or so, that there'd be a run on the Valium market, that alcohol would become a nutritional supplement, and that becoming the caretaker of a national park in Alaska would become a viable career move.



Blogger Allen said...

Unless park rangers make a lot more than I think, it's a better retirement than career move.

Thanks for the link.


November 15, 2007 11:22 PM  

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