What if the doctor become a patient?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Ana Beatriz Silva Ribeiro, a second year medical student at Tiradentes
University, Aracaju-SE, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one

One of the greatest milestones in Modern History was the advent of machines that optimized industrial production during the Industrial Revolution. The new technology has brought about major changes in labor relations and the consequent replacement of human labor by machinery. However, some services depend almost entirely on human labor, such as medicine. There is an increasing frequency of reports by doctors and health professionals who are ill, physically and mentally, due to factors such as excessive workload and the industrial view of essentially manual work.

The problem becomes even more serious when we relate the excessive workload with the lack of infrastructure, equipment and valuation for medical services. In recent years, the health professional as a whole has been devalued in various ways, whether financially or morally, which makes good care unfeasible and, consequently, the realization of Medicine as it should be done. As an example, the number of health professionals on leave from work due to Burnout Syndrome has continued to grow in recent years, marked by the lack of professional fulfillment present in many of the situations that a health professional goes through daily. And it is easy to deduce that a discouraged professional will not offer the assistance that a patient deserves.

In addition, the pandemic ended up potentiating the physical and mental exhaustion of doctors, nurses and other health workers when, in addition to the problems of lack of medicines, beds, and the impossibility of attending in crowded hospitals, it also generated the contamination of countless professionals around the world . In Brazil, for example, more than 700 thousand health professionals were dismissed on suspicion of Covid-19.

Therefore, there is still no ready answer to the question asked at the beginning of this text. If the doctor becomes a patient, he will probably need another doctor, who may be another potential patient, continuing this cycle that proves so harmful for both sides of the relationship. After all, it is always important to remember that health professionals are, first of all, human beings like any of us, who, in order to guarantee the health of patients, need their health to be protected as well.


Physical and mental health of medical professionals: a systematic review. SAÚDE DEBATE [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2020 Aug 24];40(110):244-263. DOI 10.1590/0103-1104201611019. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/pdf/sdeb/v40n110/0103-1104-sdeb-40-110-0244.pdf

787 mil profissionais de saúde foram afastados por suspeita de Covid-19 [Internet]. Brasil; 2020 Jul 09 [cited 2020 Aug 24]. Available from: https://cnts.org.br/noticias/787-mil-profissionais-de-saude-foram-afastados-por-suspeita-de-covid-19/.

Evaluation of the syndrome of burnout in health professionals: An integrative review of the literature. Revista Eletrônica Gestão & Saúde [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2020 Aug 24];3(3):868-883. Available from: https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5555778

About the author

Ana Beatriz Silva Ribeiro is a second year medical student at Tiradentes
University, Aracaju-SE, Brazil. Affiliated to the International Federation of
Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

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