New doctors want better work-life balance

According to the 2007 National Physician Survey released recently, 60 per cent of medical students and 52 per cent of residents said achieving a balance between their work and professional lives will be the most important factor when establishing a fulfilling career in medicine.

Shaheed Merani, president of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, believes that medical students, medical residents and doctors alike think that a good life-work balance is important not only in maintaining a healthy family, healthy physical abilities, and a healthy mind, but also in the work they do and the quality of care they deliver to patients.

"I think one of the mistakes we've made as a medical profession is defining a 60-hour work week as normal and defining 'on-call' as not being work," adds Dr. Ruth Wilson, president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

These findings could have an impact on how we approach the various problems afflicting Canadian health-care, including family doctor shortages and long wait times for various medical procedures.
For example, the survey reveals that 75 per cent of second-year residents want to use electronic medical records (EMRs) as part of their practice. "They reduce the amount of paperwork and give patients and physicians more time to interact on a one-on-one basis", said Merani.
Of those who completed the survey, about 36 per cent of medical students anticipated that their medical-school-related debt would exceed $80,000. One quarter of residents said they left medical school more than $80,000 in debt.

"By the time these medical students are paying back their student debts, of almost $100,000 and in some cases even more, they're almost 40 years old, they've started young families, and it is quite burdensome and it is definitely a source of stress to students," Merani said.

The survey was completed by 2,800 medical students and 730 second-year residents.