India is witnessing young doctors increasingly put off from their profession. A 2017 survey conducted by Dr. Pranav Modi and Amit Gharpure, published in Cureus with 500 respondents, revealed that almost 45% of doctors suffered from emotional exhaustion and 66% were victims of depersonalization. A huge proportion which raises an alarm. This also raises a critical question, if not clinical practice, then what after MBBS? As a result, doctors that graduate from the best medical colleges in India are wondering what path to pursue that provides a better lifestyle while having the chance to impact the lives of others. Do you share similar feelings?
Medical profession has been gripped with challenges of long working hours, undersized salary packages, and diminished job satisfaction. Therefore, causing a burnout epidemic. This is also resulting in exodus from the practice. A survey by The Medicus Firm, revealed that nearly 20% of doctors plan to make a career change within 12 months. More importantly, 8% are ‘definitely’ looking to quit clinical practice and the other 10% are ‘most likely to make a career change’. This is an issue piling up for ages till the point of exhaustion. The question for individual doctors, giving up on the system, has moved to ‘what can I do apart from clinical practice?’
Reasons for Burnout
It is also important to acknowledge it & understand the reasons behind it. Professional ‘Burn Out’ is real and has astonishing prevalence. Burnout is not taken seriously till we break it down into so-called ‘normal’ day-to-day fragments. It probably starts with job stress, strenuous bureaucratic processes involving charting and paperwork, long working hours, increased electronic utilization & being underpaid. Low sense of personal accomplishment, emotional exhaustion, cynicism, lack of respect from colleagues & depersonalization aggravate the problem.
The irony is even the doctors going through a ‘burnout’ will normalize the uneasiness. The long working hours, troubled sleep, and distressing hours are considered a part of the career with nothing to be reformed. This routine is inculcated in doctors from the very beginning. The best medical colleges in India are also prone to induce burnout in students for better results. However, a recent change in mindset and new opportunities have more and more young medical graduates asking, then after MBBS what are the options?
Death by 1000 cuts’: Medscape National Physician Burnout and Suicide Report 2021, released the following data on burnout
Frank John Ninivaggi, MD, a physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital and author of Learned Mindfulness: Physician Engagement and MD Wellness said, “The percentage of physicians feeling burned out remains fairly consistent. The leading cause is an administrative burden, as driven by the workplace and organizational culture.”
If you are one of the clinicians who share a similar feeling, then what to do? You can’t just quit! Everyone has unique circumstances, but everyone has bills to pay, families to support, and strives for professional and personal fulfilment. So we come back to the question – if not clinical practice, then after MBBS what?
So, after MBBS what are the options you can choose to combat this burnout?
Luckily today, there are many lucrative opportunities available to achieve the same financial, psychological & social success with lesser struggle through other alternatives. Quitting your medical practice to embark on a new adventure is not a revolutionary idea anymore. Alternative non-clinical careers, in the healthcare industry, offer you a chance to build on top of your medical studies and experience for a better professional and personal life. Increasing complexity and emphasis on systemic efforts to improve the healthcare system requires interdisciplinary expertise.
Non-clinical careers also offer better work-life balance and satisfaction in the workplace. Professionals with clinical backgrounds might emerge leaders in some of them and be the changemakers in their field. We need researchers to develop new medicines, cures, and vaccines. The importance of the same is now known more than before to the world, in this pandemic. Our doctors need to expand their horizons and think beyond clinical practices. A vast majority of doctors do not pursue it due to lack of knowledge. They need to plan after MBBS what? or after BDS what? or similar degree.
To conclude, it is easier said than done, but you need thorough research and an understanding of all potential options. Please do have a look at our Career Section in depth. Be mentally prepared to ignore or counter, society and other influences around you that discourage you. You have a right to personal & professional fulfilment. Let no stereotype or external factor get in your way. Support others around you, going for the transition. After MBBS what, or similar degree, is a genuine and important question for all doctors.