Health

A country doctor gave her everything. Then her heart broke.


But as the political climate surrounding Covid-19 intensified, and as some of Dr. Becher’s patients and neighbors began to dismiss the science, she became frustrated, then angry. She started running more, sometimes twice a day, for hours, “down the street”. She’s driven mad by widespread distrust of vaccines; crazy about teachers who went to school even after testing positive for the virus; crazy about endemic food insecurity, county transportation shortages, high rates of fatty liver disease.

Anger piled up, forming a stuffy pile. More than anything, Dr. Becher was mad because she couldn’t seem to do anything about any of it. Some days she comes home from work, drinks a beer and runs for miles. Then, on April 17, 2021, her heart broke.

In 1981, two psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, published a piece of paper in the Journal of Occupational Behavior on “burnout syndrome”. The authors, Christina Maslach and Susan E. Jackson, set out to measure the stress and emotional burnout of professionals such as doctors, social workers, therapists, and teachers, who which they note, having to constantly navigate complex interactions “accompanied by feelings of anger, shame, fear, or despair.”

Their questionnaire – the Maslach Burnout Inventory, or MBI – is now a scientific standard. For physicians, a high MBI score is associated with increased errors, decreased patient satisfaction, and rapid change. Exhausted doctors show higher rates of cardiovascular disease, substance abuse, and divorce. One year 2017 study of about 5,000 doctors published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that about 44% had at least one sign of burnout. One year 2019 report of the National Academy of Medicine have shown studies showing that 54 percent of doctors and nurses have experienced burnout.

“Your patients embrace you as part of their community; Tate Hinkle, GP in Lanett, Ala, says they almost become part of your family. But feelings of dependence can create a significant mental burden for doctors, Dr. Hinkle said, especially in remote rural areas where chronic illness and social disadvantage pile up. : “It just adds to my sense of pressure to make sure to take care of Everyone.”



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