DETROIT - According to a new study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, nearly half of U.S. doctors experience symptoms of burnout.
Does a tired doctor deserve the pink slip? Not necessarily: "It's the doctors who stay up all night worrying about their patients who may burn out, but they also care the most," says Travis Stork, M.D., an E.R. doc and Men's Health advisor.
So how can you know whether your M.D. should stay or should go? Here are four questions to ask yourself.
1. Is he a team player? A good doctor presents options, makes a specific recommendation--going with a surgical procedure or medication--and explains why he believes it's the best, says Dr. Topol. Beware of an M.D. who has little time for questions, or says things like, "This is really the only way."
2. Does he communicate well? When it comes to coordinating with other physicians, check that your doctor is talking to other providers involved in your care. If you're being treated for a more serious issue--cancer or a heart problem, for instance--your doc should make it clear that he's consulted with your oncologist or cardiologist and is up-to-date on your health.
3. Is he up to date? Burnout means exhaustion which could mean he's behind on recent medical journals or the latest technology. Your physician should be willing to work with information you present him, and share his educated opinion, Dr. Topol adds.
4. If you need a new doc . . . Go with a referral. Although awkward, ask your current doctor if he recommends any docs who offer evening and weekend hours, or ones who embrace the newest technology. Otherwise, seek online reviews or speak to friends and family who may have gone through similar scenarios.
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