They have a difficult job with long, demanding hours with the potential of having people’s lives in their hands.
Now, doctors around the province are getting burned out.
The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) said a recent survey found 60 per cent of doctors are either burned out or at risk of burning out.
Dr. Joanne Sivertson just finished her one-year term as SMA president and said fatigue is especially prevalent in rural and remote areas. Many of these communities have only two or three doctors, she said, and when one moves away it creates added stress on those doctors who remain.
“They try their very best to do the best they can for patients but they’re burning the candle at both ends and eventually they can’t cope with the load and so they move away from that community as well,” said Sivertson.
“You’re available all the time, practically. You feel like you can’t really get away, you can’t take a break because if you leave there’s nobody to backfill your space and so it’s difficult to not even feel like you can take a holiday.”
Demands on doctors are changing. She said there are increasingly complex patients and patients who are looking for alternative solutions that sometimes western medicine doesn’t offer. Sivertson said what will help alleviate these stressors is focusing on strengthening the team-based care approach while using affiliated healthcare professionals in supporting family doctors.
Sivertson also said having more doctors would help. She said Saskatchewan has the second lowest number of physicians per capita in the country, though she did acknowledge they have had 900 new physicians in the province over the last decade.
More than 90 per cent of physicians in Saskatchewan are members of the SMA.