DNA Medical Recruitment is proud to announce we are collaborating with Doctors’ Health Advisory Service NSW (DHAS), and we will be promoting them as a charity of choice going forward.
Together with DHAS’ Medical Director Dr Kathryn Hutt and her team we have planned an exciting fund-raising event towards the backend of 2021 to raise awareness for what we believe is one of the most important services for doctors. There will be more about this event over the coming weeks but for the moment let’s explore who DHAS are, why they are such a critical service and why DNA has chosen to promote them.
As a medical recruitment agency providing Locum doctors nationally and across many different working environments, we recognize the stresses and strains that come with being a doctor.
Locum agencies tend to fixate on the many positives of working as a Locum Doctor. (Click here to find out more about the positives and benefits, as well as some firsthand experiences of working as a locum doctor)
But what are some of the negatives?
This is an area that sometimes isn’t highlighted enough. As a regulated and audited recruitment agency, part of our responsibility is ensuring the working environment is fit to work in. This comprises of regular check-ins throughout the placement to ensure the wellbeing of our doctors is assessed. This helps us to gain valuable insights and allows us to make the necessary risk assessments and provide that critical information when onboarding our new locums.
As experienced recruitment managers we invariably build strong relationships and bonds with our doctors. As those communication channels develop, we occasionally recognise circumstances where potential mental health issues are identified. This can be further exacerbated when placing a Locum into some of the settings listed below:
A Solo Doctor Practice in a Rural setting
Where doctors sometimes work in very remote locations, they often tend to be the only doctor on site, in fact they tend to be the only doctor covering vast regions while working out of a very small clinic and sparse patient numbers booked daily making them feel very isolated.
First on-call response
We don’t need to go into too much detail here other than to mention first on-call responders with 24/7 on-call rosters 7 days a week going from isolation to a sudden resus and intubation scenario can be stressful and traumatic for even the most experienced doctor.
Adding to the situations mentioned above, some placements can range over several months putting strain on personal relationships when you are away from family and loved ones.
Long Hours, heavy workload
It’s no secret that Locum doctors earn more on average than their peers. Admittedly, this can often be down to the locum being thrown into the deep end. Practices’ that require a locum often have a heavy backlog of patients from not having a permanent doctor, sometimes for months on end. This can put plenty of strain onto a locum trying to play catch up in an unfamiliar environment, where quite often the patients are presenting with serious, chronic health issues.
Systems, processes & procedures
With each new site comes new systems, processes, policies & procedure. These can be unfamiliar to the Locum, placing additional pressure and time constraints and can act as a distraction from their clinical duties.
New environments means working with new faces. When working in a high-pressure role, strong personalities can and do occasionally clash.
Credentialing, provider numbers (with 19AA/19AB restrictions etc), and weekly Invoicing are all part and parcel of locuming. This is ever evolving and doctors must be diligent when ensuring they are suitably qualified and insured to work where they want to.
Although we added this as a negative, the good news is that when locuming through a reputable agency like DNA, we will relieve you of some of this burden and do a lot of the leg work on your behalf (where possible). DNA Medical is an audited and accredited, fully licensed, and fully insured agency. We aim to give our doctors peace of mind and reassurance when it comes to locuming.
What happens when you need help?
As much as we at DNA Medical Recruitment will bend over backwards to help our Locums resolve most of the issues outlined above, there are circumstances where we cannot help. If deeper issues emerge during times of stress, it is more appropriate for a doctor to have a confidential, impartial discussion with a peer without any fear of repercussion or judgement. Some issues which may arise are:
Alcohol or substance misuse
Legal or ethical issues
Concerns for a colleague
Receiving a complaint
So, who can you call?
The overwhelming response from a Locum is, “NO ONE”. Doctors tend to keep their issues to themselves! This is often reflected in publications, articles and statistics published online and commonly relates to the mental health and wellbeing of Doctors. We have listed a handful of these at the bottom of the article, but this is something we will highlight in more detail in the lead up to the charity event.
Why don’t you talk to someone?
Two common replies are:
Who would we call?
There are resources out there but they fail to understand the context and nature of the stresses Locum Doctors experience. There is also a concern about disclosures being reported, with implications on medical registrations.
Because doctors are put on such a high pedestal.
Perceptions of a doctor according to google are:
“a professional who practices medicine, and is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments.”
Who is a doctor to the layperson? “ a friend, a confidant, a shoulder, a source for advice, a person who has all the answers, a knight in shining armor, someone who is indestructible. The person WHO LOOKS AFTER ME! “.
Doctors sometimes forget that they are human too and can’t be superheroes all the time.
SO, WHO IS LOOKING AFTER YOU?
DHAS – Doctors’ Health Advisory Service
The Doctor’s Health Advisory Service (DHAS) provides an independent and confidential phone support service with the aim of ensuring every doctor and medical student has access to appropriate healthcare.
DHAS operates independently of all medical and professional organisations, including registration boards. When you call DHAS, a highly experienced doctor will return your call.
The DHAS doctor will listen to you and provide immediate support. If you would like, they will also help you find the ongoing support you need– whether it be referrals to specialist practitioners, online resources or other services.
The DHAS doctors handle calls relating to stress and mental illness, drug and alcohol problems, relationship and other personal issues and much more. No problem is too trivial or too serious. If you need someone to talk to please contact them today on 02 9437 6552. www.dhas.org.au
Rest assured their on-call doctors are non-judgmental, empathetic and experienced.
The Doctors' Health Advisory Service (DHAS) invites you to provide your input regarding the health and wellbeing of locum doctors.
DHAS is an independent and confidential service offering a 24 hour telephone support line staffed by experienced doctors providing advice for other doctors and medical students. The DHAS would like to hear your thoughts around issues affecting doctors’ health. So that we can provide a useful support service for locum doctors. All answers are strictly confidential, anonymous and come directly to DHAS.
Submit your views here - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WWKCCDS
Click the link below to hear DHAS Director Dr Timothy West explain how the service supports the mental health and well-being of medical practitioners. Dr West also shares some tips on how doctors can stay on top of their own health – so they can continue to care for patients successfully throughout their careers.
DNA Medical is not just about placing doctors, it’s the complete end to end process with a heavy emphasis on you welfare!
Below are some eye-opening articles that are currently trending on Socials.
A very cautionary article released by RACGP re workplace scars: