I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said it wasn’t stressful, but the stress is usually frustration at not being able to do everything I want. Sometimes we just have to accept that we can’t do everything. Stressful days are best shared and we are lucky to be able to discuss issues with others in my team at work and also a very supportive husband. Taking time to unwind and relax is also important so I enjoy yoga, gardening, reading and of course a good night out!
General practice can be very stressful and pressured. Sometimes it feels like there’s an endless queue of people waiting to be seen! Unlike in many hospital specialties, we don’t have shifts or a fixed number of patients to see in our clinics, so it can be more stressful. I try and avoid booking essential evening engagements when I’m doing a long day, especially if I’m duty doctor as I don’t know if I’ll be called out to an emergency. The key to dealing with the stress is to have a good amount of time off each week, to have hobbies, and to have a good team around you so you don’t become isolated. At our surgery, we all meet for coffee at 10.45 and 3pm each day. It’s amazing the difference those 10-15 minutes each day makes!
Stress does occur in general practice, but we try to reduce it by having good systems in place and a team of great support staff. Our GPs also meet every day for coffee and a chat around 11.30, this helps them sound off in a safe environment if things are getting to much, and to get their colleagues opinions and help with difficult cases.
At times when A and E is very busy it can be very stressful because you have lots of competing interests – the patient and their family obviously comes first but you also have other patients at the same time, plus the patients who are waiting to be seen. This all fits into the complex set of targets and rules which we have to try and adhere to! Sometimes when it’s really busy I end up just taking five minutes to collect my thoughts and make a new plan of action to make sure I aim using my time wisely which I find is really helpful at then giving me the energy needed to plough on!
It can be. Some departments like emergency or acute care have lots of unwell patients coming in quickly and on wards or in GP there are a lot of demands on your time and things to stay on top of. Trying to get everything done safely and in a way that’s best for patients isn’t always straightforward and can get stressful! Being organised helps a lot. Having interests outside of work and good friends to support you is key, as is taking 5 minutes quiet time at work, making sure you get lunch or having a cup of tea.