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15 Things Only People Who Work in the Medical Field Will Understand

15 Things Only People Who Work in the Medical Field Will Understand

If you opted for a career in the medical field, no doubt the prospect of saving a life or bringing a new life into the world attracted you. The benefits of a rewarding job where dedication and skill are in high demand appealed to you. But the daily reality is, of course, less enchanting as you deal with the challenges, difficulties and frustrations. Here are 15 things nobody mentioned when you opted for a career in medicine.

1. You understand the high suicide rate.

If you are a doctor or surgeon, the stress of making a mistake and living with it afterwards is almost intolerable. It is estimated that 98,000 people die a year because of medical errors. The effects on medical staff speak for themselves. One doctor a day kills himself, according to the the Journal of the American Medical Association. The medical profession is the one with the highest suicide rates and this is mainly due to undiagnosed and untreated depression. You know that there is nothing wrong with getting treated for depression although the figures tell another story.

“If we teach doctors to recognize depression in themselves, they will recognize it in their patients.”- Dr. Paula Clayton, medical director of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

2. You have to keep up with electronic developments.

Doctors are notorious for their bad handwriting. This can lead to mistakes when the pharmacist misreads the prescription. A shocking 7,000 deaths used to occur a year because the wrong medicine was given and administered. You are acutely aware of this and now electronically send the prescription straight to a pharmacy of your choice. You know that this is important because there has been a 90% drop in medical errors since this technology was introduced.

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3. You cannot stand the colleagues who will not admit their mistakes.

If you are a nurse, you have a tough life with the schedules and shifts which can upset your sleep and rest and it takes ages to adjust. But the worst thing of all is when your colleagues cover up their mistakes and do somersaults rather than admit their guilt. You may have to consider a career move unless you can overcome the backstabbing and politics. You console yourself with the thought that there is energy and healing in your hands until you find something better.

4. You hate patients who consult Dr. Google.

If you are a doctor, you know how many patients (around 35%) have already diagnosed themselves on Google before they even get to your office. They know all the answers, risks, diagnosis and their chances of recovery. This is extremely irritating and you wonder if they ever realize how much training you have had to do. You try to suppress your irritation and tell them that Google is not always a reliable source.

5. You need to have incredible stamina.

People think that a career in the medical world is exciting, dramatic and even glamorous. The harsh reality is that if you are a doctor or nurse, you know only too well that you have to have incredible stamina and energy, just to survive. The average nurse has to walk more than 4 miles a day when she or he is on shift. For doctors, long and irregular hours plus the fact of being on call for emergencies calls for boundless energy and stamina. You know that the only solution is to take care of yourself and not get stressed out or exhausted.

6. You may have to face the nightmare of a malpractice lawsuit.

If you are a doctor or nurse, you know that the nightmare of medical malpractice lawsuits is never far away. The numbers of these suits aimed at doctors has skyrocketed. God, fate and age are no longer blamed for death. The doctor is in the first line. The greatest number of cases are in the OB/GYN where doctors have to pay about $200,000 a year for their insurance. You are only too keenly aware that the more preventive tests you order, the more you are likely to make an error as the possibilities multiply. You sadly reflect that the best protection is to keep as up to date as possible about the latest developments in your specialty.

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7. You are the unsung heroes.

Imagine coming into work on a voluntary basis to save your hospital from collapsing? The pressure on A&E (Accident and Emergency) units in the UK is facing a crisis as winter illnesses overwhelm the hospitals sinking into chaos because of staff shortages and cuts. The Royal College of Nursing said that working overtime was a now a daily reality for many medical staff. The doctors’ union warned that long hours were unsustainable and was putting patients’ lives at risk.

8. You are constantly being monitored.

There are now so many organizations online that monitor health care that you feel that are being constantly monitored. The pressure is enormous as patients shop around for the best possible medical care. It is now a pay-for-performance world and the insurers are calling the tune. Every patient you look after is monitored long afterwards to see if they have to be readmitted. If you are a hospital executive under pressure you know that the best way forward is partnering with the patients who are now very well informed.

“Patients are no longer content with what they had to put up with in the past. Instead of a one-sided relationship, we are now partnering with our patients. It’s actually a great time for us to renew our commitment to quality, safety and patient satisfaction.”- Lynne Wagner, Chief Nursing Officer at Denver’s RoseMedicalCenter.

9. You have to put up with difficult patients.

You know the ones I mean. They are demanding, impatient, entitled, argumentative and hostile! They complain and demand enormous chunks of your time. To avoid arguments, simple solutions like written notices in your office about medication refill procedure will help. As regards the difficult customers, the best solution is to try and hone your communication skills. It is irritating but you may have to listen more. You may have to reflect on how you are communicating complex medical terminology in everyday language.

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10. You are trying to avoid burnout as best you can.

When you get burnout as a nurse you are paying a very high price for working conditions which must be improved. Look at what you are expected to tolerate. You have the same rates of pay and with additional workload. Mental and physical exhaustion are just the results of working in a chaotic and stressful environment. This may put patients’ lives at risk. You are aware that the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are urging new nursing school graduates to take part in nurse residency programs. In the meantime, you dream about better support, more human scheduling and better compensation.

11. You are burdened with changes in legislation.

If you are a doctor running a medical practice in the US, you know better than I do that you have to convert to the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases-10th revision ) by October 2015. Apart from the costs which could run up to $100,000 for some small practices, there is all the hassle in revamping the systems in place for new software for billing and health records. Wherever you practice medicine, the state bureaucracy is always looking over your shoulder. The best solution is to seek advice from medical associations and be sure you are up to date.

12. You do not see a bright future.

If you are a nurse, you know that there are never enough nurses! You gloomily look at the forecasts and note with alarm that in the USA, there will be a shortage of 1 million nurses by the year 2020. You also know that if there were enough nurses now, this would mean 6,700 fewer deaths. You feel proud that you are part of the glue that holds the medical system together.

13. You feel that your real job is being taken over by paperwork.

If you are a doctor, you spend more and more time online trying to cope with all the paperwork and keeping up to date, not to mention lifelong learning and self assessment for internists. A whopping 58% of doctors in 2013 spent more than one day a week on paperwork which jumped to 70% in 2014! You wonder why you cannot spend more time with your patients which is why you graduated. Now you know why more and more doctors are selling their practices.

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14. You begin to wonder about the investment in time and money.

Training to be a doctor is no joke and is extremely expensive and time consuming. Some estimates say that you spend anything from 10 to 17 years to get qualified. Apart from the graduate training, you have to spend additional years at medical school doing lab work together with medical ethics. Then you have to spend more years training in your specialty. You may have to do a three year residency at a teaching hospital. The only consolation is when you save someone’s life or help someone get over a serious illness. Yes, it was well worth it!

15. You took a short cut.

If you decided that the easy way out to get into medicine as a PA (Physician Assistant) was a good idea, you are now beginning to have second thoughts. The tough thing is that while the training was dead easy with just two years, the chances of moving up the career ladder are limited to say the least. You are always working under supervision and have practically no autonomy. The only consolation is that there is a chance to move between specialties.

What are the worst things about working in the medical field? Let us know in the comments.

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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