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Some doctors have a distorted view that they are immune to the illnesses that affect the rest of the community.

Are you taking advice from an unhealthy doctor?

Dr Ross Walker
30 April 2014

 

by Ross Walker

I recently presented on my 2UE radio show the not often discussed topic of Doctors’ Health. I well remember the disturbing story of a cardiac surgeon who developed angina. His cardiologist investigated him and suggested strongly that he have coronary artery bypass grafting. The surgeon’s reply was that operations were for patients, not Doctors.  One week after refusing surgery, the surgeon died of a massive heart attack.  

For reasons only known to them, some Doctors have a distorted view that they are immune to the illnesses that affect the rest of the community. In fact, when you think about it, the typical time-poor, stressful, very sedentary job of being a Doctor – a job where I have to admit, I often only get a one minute sandwich break for lunch, in what is at times, a ten hour day, is a perfect setting for poor health.  

Many Doctors are burnt out, overweight or obese, often drink too much alcohol and occasionally have drug dependences. The rates of psychologic, at times serious mental health issues and suicide in the medical profession, are not inconsiderable.  

I applaud the Federal Medical Board’s decision to fund an independent health program for the medical profession, for such a demanding job that requires intense concentration, lifelong learning and sharpening of skills with a constant fear of being sued if something goes wrong. 

Many Doctors see it as a sign of weakness to be sick, let alone ask for help. But, in a society where thankfully the public is so much more aware and better educated about health, it is time Doctors became advisers and educators for their patients, rather than the antiquated attitude of “I am the expert and you should do as your told”.  It is also time Doctors stopped ignoring their own health and ask for help when they need it.  

 


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