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Contemporary medicine is challenging, exciting, dynamic and a career in medicine is also exciting and rewarding – and stressful.

We know and understand how stressful life can be as a medical student, doctor in training and experienced specialist so we’ve put together a few tips for managing stress in your busy professional life before it impacts on your personal life.  Remember though, there are colleagues (and AMA staff) who will willingly help you through the tough times.  It is important that you know that illness strikes us all, and doctors are not immune from this, so do accept this and give yourself permission to be unwell (just like the general population) and seek advice.

Visit the “studying medicine” page for advice on how to manage as a medical student – top tips there! Our doctors in training page for further tips written for graduates.

If you are a medical student, you may find that your Medical Society has mechanisms and resources to support you through and some hospitals provide counselling services for their medical workforce.

Some specialist colleges provide support to their members and you should check out your college for specific assistance.

Importantly, and you will find the AMA repeats this often, do have a GP you know well and trust to provide you with the advice needed. This relationship is as critical to your well-being as it is for the general public. 

Doctors’ health matters

“Healthy doctors, healthy patients” or indeed “healthy doctors better medicine” are well-known sayings in the medical profession. The term “Physician, Heal Thyself” has been around for many years

Doctors need to be well themselves to be able to provide high-quality health care to their patients and the community, and to experience medicine as a rewarding and satisfying career.

Research shows that doctors with good personal health practices are more likely to talk positively to their patients and pass on healthy behaviours.

Here are some simple tips to help you to look after your own health, adapted from the AMA's position statement on the health and wellbeing of doctors and medical students.  

  • Take responsibility for your own physical and psychological health.
  • Get yourself a GP – establish a continuing therapeutic relationship with a GP.
  • Never feel guilty if you have to take time off for illness.
  • Incorporate regular leave, good nutrition, exercise, leisure and family time into your lifestyle.
  • Make sure that you are up to date with your vaccinations and screening tests.
  • Avoid self-diagnosis, treatment and prescribing.
  • The support of others is vital – try to establish a network of colleagues and peers for debriefing, support and mentoring.
  • Incorporate self-help techniques such as stress management and time management into your professional development.

 

There are online resources available to help doctors at all stages of their careers.

The Australasian Doctors Health Network website is for doctors and students, and for families and colleagues of doctors in Australia and New Zealand. The site gives doctors contact phone numbers for immediate help and support. It also has links to doctors’ health advisory services in each state and territory.

The junior doctors health and wellbeing website promotes the health and wellbeing of junior doctors. It Includes self-assessment tools, vignettes from junior doctors and tips to help them look after themselves.

The AMA can direct you to a number of useful resources on doctors’ health and well-being. 

 

NEW DOCTORS’ HEALTH SERVICE ARRANGEMENTS

Doctors and medical students in NSW, the ACT, South Australia, and the Northern Territory will have access to expanded doctors’ health services from 1 May 2016, a major step in the roll out of an enhanced national health program for medical professionals and students.

As part of a $2 million network of nationally-consistent doctors’ health services, the Doctors Health Advisory Service (NSW) will provide services for doctors and medical students in NSW and the ACT, while Doctors’ Health SA will provide services for doctors and medical students in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The other States are expected to join these arrangements in coming months.

Doctors and medical students in South Australia and the NT should call 08 8366 0250 and/or visit  www.doctorshealthsa.com.au

Doctors and medical students in the ACT and NSW should call 02 9437 6552.

 

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Protecting yourself

The AMA considers all medical practitioners should take medical insurance and indeed the Medical Board requires proof of currency of insurance as part of its registration renewals. 

Medical indemnity insurers must meet the minimum product standards that apply to all medical indemnity insurers as defined in the Medical Indemnity (Prudential Supervision and Product Standards) Act 2003 (Source: Medical Board of Australia)

Medical indemnity insurers include:

Fatigue management

The AMA also offers all doctors a unique web-based tool that enables you to evaluate the safety of your roster, and help make hospitals safer for patients and doctors.

The AMA's fatigue risk assessment tool enables you to track your work, on-call, recreational and sleeping hours over a week, and determine whether your work arrangements are placing you at risk of serious fatigue. 

Managing your finances

As a medical student you probably didn’t worry too much about having money, but as a doctor in training you will be receiving a guaranteed salary which will have a base rate and an overtime rate, at least, and probably other allowances.  We recommend that you find time to check your pay slips and report any discrepancies to your pay office and your State AMA.  As your employment terms and conditions will be the result of negotiations by AMA and/or ASMOF, the industrial officers will be able to assist you.

It is considered advisable that you commence now thinking about your financial future and with this in mind, we have listed the issues we know doctors in training are thinking about in a couple of categories.  We are not providing you with advice on these but highlighting them for your consideration.

For advice on these please contact your State or Territory AMA and/or visit the FairWork Ombudsman's website (https://calculate.fairwork.gov.au/findyouraward) for their Pay and Conditions Tool (The PACT) for more information and assistance. 

 Important work issues

  • Pay slips
  • Overtime income
  • Managing hospital superannuation contributions
  • Salary sacrificing

Lending/debt

  • HECS – pay it?
  • Good debt vs bad debt and knowing the difference
  • Credit cards – good or evil?

Lifestyle and asset protection (Insurance)

  • What do I need?
  • Can I afford it?

Wealth creation

  • Can I ever retire and how?
  • Superannuation – contribute now or later?
  • Property – is the timing right and what are the first steps?
  • Are there other financial strategies I should consider?

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DISCLAIMER: 

This material is generic in nature and is made available on the understanding that the AMA is not engaged in rendering professional advice. Before relying on the material provided, users should carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances where necessary.Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this Resource Hub, the AMA or its employees cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage arising to any person as a result of using this site.