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Welfare of doctors: OVERVIEW

This guide has been designed for anaesthetists and specialist pain medicine physicians interested in the locating resources relevant to the general welfare of medical practitioners, including those resources available through the ANZCA library.

Spotlight on: mental health

Articles​Raimo J, LaVine S, Spielmann K, Akerman M, Friedman KA, Katona K, Chaudhry S. The Correlation of Stress in Residency With Future Stress and Burnout: A 10-Year Prospective Cohort Study. J Grad Med Educ. 2018 Oct;10(5):524-531.

It’s time to start treating physician burnout as a system issue, not an individual one.

Tait Shanafelt, Chief Wellness Officer for Stanford Medicine and former Director of the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine Program on Physician Well-Being, lays out how during the NEJM Catalyst June 2016 event, "Leadership: Translating Challenge to Success."

View it on the NEJM Catalyst website, so you can download a free article collection on Physician Burnout.

​Prins DJ, van Vendeloo SN, Brand PLP, Van der Velpen I, de Jong K, van den Heijkant F, et al. The relationship between burnout, personality traits, and medical specialty. A national study among Dutch residents. Med Teach. 2018 Nov 3:1-7.

Dyrbye L, Shanafelt T. A narrative review on burnout experienced by medical students and residents. Med Educ. 2016;50(1):132-49.

Westbrook, J., Sunderland, N. Bullying and harassment of health workers endangers patient safety.  The Conversation, Medical Observer, 5 November 2018, .

Robson, S. I was a young doctor, about to kill myself, when I heard a knock at my door. Sydney Morning Herald; 2 November 2018.

Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. Clinical Communique. 2018;5(3):10.

Special issue on clinician suicides.

Marr, J. 'I needed it to look like an accident. A tired doctor falls asleep at the wheel and hits a tree' [article post]. Medical observer. Posted 24 August, 2017.

In this article GP Dr Jane Marr tells how one night, during a shift on a labour ward, she came close to suicide.

MultimediaBrockie J (Presenter), Watanabe A (Producer). Why are rates of mental illness so high among junior doctors and nurses? [Television series episode]. Special Broadcasting Service Corporation: SBS Insight. 2017, June 20. 

Link to SBS insight episode - Why are rates of mental illness so high among junior doctors and nurses?

Murray R, Crotty B. What needs to happen to build resilience and improve mental health among junior doctors [article post]. The Conversation. Posted May 25, 2017.

Doctors experience higher levels of suicide and mental distress than their non-medical peers. A review of studies in the area found male doctors had a 26% higher risk of suicide, while female doctors had a 146% higher risk (more than double) than the general population...

Wiedersehn, Sarah. Anaesthetists conference: Medical professionals encouraged to speak up on mental health [article post]. Brisbane Times. Posted May 14, 2017.

A healthy anaesthetist means a healthier patient, which is why the topic of mental health among this "high-risk" group of doctors is being brought out in the open.​..

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Welfare of Anaesthetists SIG

For more information about this Special Interest Group (SIG), including accessing specific resource documents as well as podcasts and other resources available through Networks, please visit the Welfare of Anaesthetists SIG page on the ANZCA website

Additionally, if you would like to join this SIG an application form and contact details are available from the ANZCA website.

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Talk to usWe rely on your feedback to further develop and support these library guides. Use the link below to provide content suggestions, as well as make to recommendations, report issues, and to give general feedback.

Spotlight on: substance abuse

The topic of substance abuse amongst our colleagues has frequently and recently been discussed by the SIG.  This article sought to establish how common the problem is, who it affects and what is being done about it in our region.  The survey has recently been repeated and the results will be published soon.  Until then, let us review where we were in 2005.  Also keep a look out for our ‘article of the month’ in the ANZCA Bulletin.

To view the survey click here.

Fry, RA. Substance Abuse by Anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand.  Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 2005; 33: 248-255

Recognising Warning Signs 
  • Are you enthusiastic for long, difficult or complicated cases?  
  • Do you volunteer to work extra shifts or to do extra or late cases on a list? 
  • Are you over-anxious to give breaks to your colleagues?  

Did you know that these are some of the warning signs of drug abuse, according the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI)?

These attributes are also those which are generally valued by anaesthetists, which highlights how difficult it can be to recognise substance misuse amongst our colleagues.  
For more warning signs and for strategies on what to do when you suspect someone may have a substance abuse problem, I encourage you to read the Welfare of Anaesthetists Special Interest Group resource document "RD 20 Substance Abuse 2013", which can be found (along with other resource documents) on the ANZCA website here.

Recommendations for future articles of the month are welcome.  Please contact Events or Dr Suzi Nou (