Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

No Time for Fun

doctors laughing

Dr Sushila Kataria had an outing in mind, so she took along her son to hospital from where she had planned to go out with him. But the long queue outside her room took her more than an hour followed by an emergency, which trashed her plan completely.

This is not unusual rather an anticipated turn of events for a senior doctor. Sometimes, movie tickets go waste while on other occasions; a critical case robs them off pleasure and entertainment. Undoubtedly, their hectic schedule rarely gives them breathing space. Those who save others’ lives find it hard to take time out for their own lives. For those who work in government hospitals, life has never been easy. These working hours generally stretch for hours and they do all this in return for a paltry salary.

“A couple of my doctor friends’ marriages broke as they couldn’t get time for each other. It is a misconception that a medico spouse can understand you better. In the cases I am mentioning the spouses were also medical professionals,” says Dr Sushila Kataria, a physician at Medanta Medicity Hospital.

Other reason for their demanding schedule is their popularity, which engages them in too many activities apart from the normal day-to-day check ups and surgeries. Seminars, sessions, researches and events take away the probable “time out” which they could have spent with the family.
Doctor Ramesh Sarin, an oncologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, also runs an organisation named Forum for Breast Cancer, for which she needs to travel, attend seminars and give lectures amidst hectic hospital hours. “I love to socialise with people and go out. My hospital day generally ends at 7 or 8 but I have to work for my forum also, which demands considerable time,” says Dr Sarin.
Considering this, hospitals (read private hospitals) have provided a host of facilities to let them offset the onerous grind. It entails almost everything from dance and sports to festive celebrations. Indraprastha Apollo hospitals has tied up with Ballrumoours Dance Studio which teaches salsa dance to a number of “interested” doctors who like to “shake a leg” in the hospital premises after a gruelling day. Besides this, the hospitals Consultants’ Forum organises cricket matches and badminton matches to add a sporty flavour to the lives of doctors who barely could play as children because of tiring hours of never-ending studies.
On every festival, they rejoice and enjoy to the fullest. The Forum organises cultural and festive extravaganzas to get the mood lighter. “We have a gym also, but I prefer to go for swimming and sports to unwind,” says Dr Arun Prasad, former president of the Consultants’ Forum.
This is not a unique concept. Gym, sports, cultural events and cricket matches between doctors and management are common affairs. For private hospitals (which are run like corporate houses), doctors are merely employees who are pampered and paid a cool figure, which never gives them a chance to complain. But is it enough and are hospitals giving them enticing and stimulating environment?
Dr. Kushagra Katariya, Consultant cardiothoracic surgeon & CEO Artemis Health Sciences says: “Human resource management in healthcare is a still maturing field. Not enough has been done in this area yet and many more issues need to be handled proactively. This needs to begin at the level of training and carry on for a lifetime.” So, it can’t be said unconditionally that even the unnervingly stretched long hours can be justified by whatever facilities and stress buster arrangements are given by the hospitals.
Outside the hospitals, what unwind them most are the outings with their families, which they long for badly. Most of them share the same ground as Dr Sushila Kataria who has to often cancel movie tickets but manages to go out atleast once in three months. This is a common practice for these medico professionals as they have to generally work on weekends. It, no doubt, hampers their efficiency too. Agrees Dr Kushagra: “Stress impacts every part of life. One should try and get organized but unfortunately, efficient management skills which are essential ingredients towards a successful career are not taught in medical school and are also not taken seriously by many.”
For opportunists, work becomes a blessing in disguise. They enjoy the work and even long hours with patients and develop a nice equation with them. For senior surgeons, summits and conferences in abroad are a big relief whenever they happen. “The consultants generally manage to travel abroad once in six months. A trip to US or Europe is always fun-filled and we do get ample time there to hang out and go shopping after the conference terminates,” says Dr Shyam Aggarwal, a consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.

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