Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Checking Up on the Doctor

“Doctors readily dispense prescriptions and advice, but what do they do themselves? A number of surveys, polls and questionnaires provide some clues—and some surprises. Physicians as a group are leaner, fitter and live longer than average Americans. ‘As a profession, we have not always taken good care of ourselves,’ says Edward Creagan, a professor of medical oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who writes the Mayo stress blog. But doctors who aren't fit learn their lesson the hard way, he says. There's a growing awareness that ‘if one is not psychologically, spiritually and physically fit, one will not go the distance in this profession.’ What's more, many studies show that doctors who exercise and watch their weight are more likely to counsel patients to do so and be more credible, too. ‘There's a strong link between what doctors do themselves and what they tell their patients to do,’ says Erica Frank, a professor of public health at the University of British Columbia who was the principle investigator on the Women Physician's Health Study (WPHS) which surveyed the health practices of 4,500 women doctors in the 1990s, and has studied U.S. medical students and Canadian doctors as well. ‘If we pay more attention to physicians' health, we'll have a patient population that is healthier.’ A look at what the studies have found: Exercise: Many physicians say they ‘embed’ it into their lives, making it a non-negotiable part of their daily routine, often early in the morning before demands pile on...

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