Residents are required to work longer hours which can put patients and staff in danger. In the U.S., the prevalence of medical errors that endangered patients’ safety brought about changes in the allowed workload of residents. In 2011 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education proposed new regulations on house staff duty hours. Long shift-work can put a toll on the health and well-being of residents as they try to balance work and private life. Medical experts offer advice to those entering the medical field on how to keep their health in check while in their first years of medical training:
Squeeze in exercise time into your daily schedule
A study showed that military physicians who did aerobic exercising had an overall better quality of life. With this in mind, the Association of Women Surgeons advises medical residents to do at least 30 minutes of exercising three times a week. Although it seems impossible to find time for exercising with your busy schedule, you definitely should try and work out because this will improve your endurance and you will, in the end, feel less tired at work. Some workers found that doing yoga early in the morning helps them stay fit during their residency.
Watch what you eat
Association of Women Surgeons in their manual titled Effective Management of Stress, Fitness and Nutrition during a Surgical Residency state that healthy eating goes hand-in-hand with a workout plan. Their recommendations include avoiding caffeine as this can over-stimulate and drain your nervous system. Avoid unhealthy snacks and stick to protein bars for quick fixes of energy. Pack your own lunch and don’t use vending machines and plan your meals. Also, make wise choices when eating out. You will need a lot of energy when working as a medical resident so make sure your body and brain are getting the proper nutrition.
Some medical residents have to travel to their workplace. To manage your already limited time, research all the travel information you can find regarding your workplace. The University of Maryland offers online travel information for their residents in order to help them manage their time. They offer information on nearby hotels, driving and walking directions, parking spots, and other. You can use this information as a guideline for what info you should look for. Being informed will save you time, and this means more time for sleep and leisure activities to keep your health and well-being in check.
A survey filled out by Members of the American College of Surgeons showed that workers who put emphasis on finding meaning in their work, focusing on the importance things in life and balancing the work/life philosophy were less likely to burnout from their work. For these reasons, authors of the Wellness Book for Emergency Physicians give guidelines to anyone working in the medical field to take the time to remind themselves of their goals and to not get over-identified with their work. Outside of your work, you are still a human being.
Take necessary precautions to the extreme
Medical workers are exposed to infectious diseases most of their time. Although protection advice might seem redundant, one can never put enough emphasis on proper protection. Physicians are trained to protect themselves from diseases, but sometimes, like in the cases of an emergency, necessary precautions might slip the mind. Do not allow yourself to forget to put on a mask with a febrile patient or to forget to wash your hands before a meal. The Wellness Book for Emergency Physicians puts a strong emphasis on these precautions to those working in the emergency medical field.
Get the newest gadgets
In the Massachusetts General Hospital researchers conducted an interventional study titled Be Fit in Residency: a Randomized Controlled Trial of an Activity Device Among Medicine Residents. Their aim was to improve general fitness of resident workers by providing them with a wireless activity monitor (Fitbit) that tracks the number of steps residents made daily. The residents made more steps after they started wearing the monitor which draws the conclusion that such gadgets can motivate workers to be more active. This newest gadget works by making you aware of the level of your physical activity. The gadget can be worn as a wristband and the tracking is available online as an app.
While you are a striving physician at the beginning of a great career, do not forget that you are still only human. You need adequate rest and nutrition in order to not put yourself or your patients in danger. As a physician, you are setting an example for your patients so make sure to be mindful of your health and well-being. In this way, you will become a better physician and find your work more satisfying.