By Michael H. Kanter, MD
Medical Director of Quality and Clinical Analysis
Although addressing our individual health needs may not always be top-of-mind, it’s essential to remember that prevention and self-management are as important for physicians as they are for our families and patients.
We sometimes know our care gaps, but there’s a difference between knowing and doing. With our busy schedules, it’s challenging to make the time and take action to close important care gaps or make appropriate lifestyle changes.
Be sure to take advantage of the time you’ve been given for your own health care*. If you don’t have a primary care physician, I encourage you to select one*. And use tools, such as the online “Personal Action Plan,” on kp.org to optimize health.
To access this tool, sign on to kp.org, go to “My medical record,” and then select “Personal action plan,” from the left navigation menu. There, you’ll be able to see if you’re up to date on screenings and have any preventive care gaps, such as high blood pressure, or a BMI greater than 25% that needs to be addressed.
There are also active steps you can take to prevent physician burnout. Even though physicians have challenges that are different from others in the workforce, we are, after all, human beings. If you can recognize your reactions and feelings and act on them in a positive way, you will be as likely as anyone else to deal with the stressors that can cause job burnout. I encourage you to read this article on the subject: “Exemplary Physicians’ Strategies for Avoiding Burnout.” Getting exercise, sleep, and even lightening up and laughing will make your lives and jobs more satisfying – and you will take better care of patients.
*Excerpt from SCPMG Partnership Agreement Rules and Regulations, Section 7.A.1(k) Permanente Medicine for Permanente Physicians: It is the policy of SCPMG that every Permanente physician is encouraged to designate a personal physician and to see that physician on a regular basis. All SCPMG physicians should be registered on kp.org.
Physicians are encouraged to schedule their own preventive care in a way that honors the central importance of patient access. As indicated by age and/or health status, physicians are encouraged to schedule up to one day, or 2W, of Sick Leave per year – in increments as small as 1/2W – for preventive care visits to their personal physician or dentist, or screening procedures ordered by their personal physician…