Rx: Sleep

This year is quite hectic for me. Besides the load at work and other responsibilities, I also have to renew 2 of my 3 board certifications. That means I have to study and pass my board exams to keep my certifications.

The governing bodies of Medicine wants all the practicing physicians to be updated and competent in their field of expertise. After all the discipline of science and medicine is ever evolving and what may be true some years ago, may not be applicable today. That’s why doctors have to take regular scheduled exams to maintain their qualifications.

Most of the medical specialties need re-certifications every 7 to 10 years. But now, they are introducing an option of taking the test every 2 or 3 years. More frequent test, oh fun!

The first exam I had to re-certify for this year is for my Pulmonary boards. I am relieved to say that it is past and done. I took my re-certification exam last May, and for 4 months before the boards, I devoted at least 30 minutes a day for review. It must have been worth the efforts for I’m proud to say that I passed it. I’m good for another few years on this sub-specialty.

The next exam to tackle is this coming November. It is for my Sleep Medicine boards.

I took a break in studying the month of June. But this July I’m back to the books again. I’m allotting half an hour (or more) every day for study.

Come to think of it, this might eat up some of my time for training for the annual half-marathon that I do in October. Should I just skip the half-marathon this year? Though I think I should still do my regular 2 to 3-mile run to keep me from getting too flabby.

Should I take a break from blogging too? Nah! Blogging is actually my relaxation.

I was on 24-hour duty the other day, and it was a busy call. It was not until 2 o’clock in the morning that I went to bed in our hospital call room, only to be called several more times during the remainder of the night, or should I say early morning. One particular ICU patient that I admitted around midnight was so sick, that he died 6 hours later despite our best efforts to keep him alive.

By the way, my other sub-specialty is Critical Care (ICU Medicine) and my Critical Care boards re-certification is due next year. That means I will be studying again for next year. Who said you’re done taking test after you graduate from school?

Anyway, I was off the next day after my 24-hour call. I decided to do some “light” reading to prepare for my Sleep Boards. My brain may be half-awake, but I was resolute to stick to my schedule. But do you know that according to research, dolphins can have half of their brain asleep while the other half awake? Maybe I was trying to be a dolphin.

It so happened that when I opened my reviewer, the chapter I was about to read was about sleep deprivation and its ill effects on our health. Wasn’t it so ironic? I was studying about the bad effects of sleep deprivation, and I myself was sleep deprived!

I stopped reading. I put down the book and did the best thing. I went to sleep.

(*photo from the web)

Crash and Burn(out)

For the past month or so, I have been reviewing for my Critical Care re-certification Board Exam. In the US, they want us to re-certify every 10 years for our (sub)specialty Boards. So between certifying and re-certifying in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care Medicine and Sleep Medicine, it seems like I’m taking exams every year or so.

Few days ago, in my reviewer book, I came upon this practice question which made me think. I have never read this topic in any textbook nor heard it in any lectures or review course before. But after a minute of deliberation, I guessed the answer right.

Here’s the ┬áreview question:

Which is most commonly associated with burnout among critical care professionals?

A. Conflicts with patients and their families.

B. Conflicts with coworkers.

C. Severity of patient’s illness.

D. Increasing age of clinician.

So what’s your answer? Believe it or not, among the stressors that contribute to burnout among critical care professionals, conflict with coworkers is the most common (choice B is correct). In a survey of almost 7,500 ICU physicians and nurses, conflicts were perceived by 71.6%, with nurses-physician conflicts being the most common. It is also interesting to know that younger intensivists with less experience had higher levels of burnout than their older counterparts. (Source: ACCP-SEEK vol.XX)

I know that working in a critical care environment has a high burnout rate. And I am glad that I have no problems with my co-workers: fellow physicians, nurses, and other medical ancillary workers. This gives me more reason to love, appreciate and always try to get along with my co-workers – not only for the sake of the health of our patients but it is good for my health too.

Being in this line of work for more than 10 years, makes me old, but that is reassuring to know that being experienced makes me less prone to burnout. So there’s actually an advantage of getting old!

If I would give advice or create a practice question, here’s what I will draft:

What will be the best way to prevent burnout in your work?

A. Change career into a less stressful one. (Like, ah…. er….. a professional clown? On second thought, I don’t think a rodeo-clown is less stressful!)

B. Quit your job, and live in a remote place out of civilization, like a hermit.

C. Party every night after work, as if there’s no tomorrow, to release your stress. (Make your motto: eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die!)

D. Start and learn a new hobby……….like blogging!

I guess you know what answer I highly recommend.