Research and Opinion in Anesthesia & Intensive Care

: 2020  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 320--321

Stress in anesthesia practice: a deterrent or a driving force?

Vishal K Pai1, Mridul Dhar2, Ajit Kumar2,  
1 Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, All Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Correspondence Address:
MBBS,MD Mridul Dhar
Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, 249203

How to cite this article:
Pai VK, Dhar M, Kumar A. Stress in anesthesia practice: a deterrent or a driving force?.Res Opin Anesth Intensive Care 2020;7:320-321

How to cite this URL:
Pai VK, Dhar M, Kumar A. Stress in anesthesia practice: a deterrent or a driving force?. Res Opin Anesth Intensive Care [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Nov 30 ];7:320-321
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Full Text

Stress is considered an integral part of life. Stress and hardship provide the drive in our personal and professional life to do well and achieve more. A stressed doctor may not necessarily be a bad doctor. However, if this stress gets out of control it may affect his or her clinical judgment. Stress is inevitable, but the inability to efficiently cope with it may prove to be disastrous. The most common reason for this stress is an imbalance between demands made and the demands being fulfilled [1].

In the current scenario, fresh medical graduates face a lot of stress, in terms of getting into a desired postgraduation, getting a satisfactory job, making their mark professionally, and becoming financially independent. The branch of anesthesiology, in particular, is a very demanding field which involves long working hours. With the sudden surge in young qualified anesthesiologists who are more efficient, and willing to work round the clock for lesser salaries, it has proved to be more stressful for the already practicing anesthesiologists, who have now begun restricting their working hours.

For an anesthesiologist, the most important interaction is with the surgeon, and the feeling of being dependent and paid less for their services are important stress factors. Type A personality doctors are more susceptible to stress and sometimes in extreme situations, inability to cope with this stress has resulted in suicidal tendencies [2]. The medical profession has a markedly higher incidence of suicides as compared with other professional groups especially among anesthesiologists.

It is now well established scientifically that anesthesiologists do suffer from stress, as seen in numerous studies worldwide. One of them summarizes that among anesthesiologists, the average value of perceived stress scale was 24.0 (0–56). In the same study, 57.9% experienced emotional exhaustion, 44.8% stated lack of personal accomplishment, and 90.9% depersonalization. Depersonalization was more frequent in community hospitals [3].

Anesthesiologists taking up administrative jobs, increasing professional workload, and rising competition in private practice are also contributing to this stress [4]. On-call schedules are disturbing circadian rhythms, specially of junior doctors. Even though senior consultants working in institutions have juniors attending emergency calls, the anticipation and fear of a mishap can be a continuous source of stress. Private practitioners or noninstitutional anesthesiologists suffer from similar, if not more stress compared with their institutional counterparts as they do not have the luxury of professional back-up. Impending litigation, emergency surgeries requiring long periods of concentration, interpersonal relationships, and work–home conflicts are adding to the already compromised environment [4],[5].

Efficient stress management involves, making sure to take time off from academic and work duties and also to revive old hobbies. Sharing with family members, friends, and colleagues can be an easy and productive vent. Keeping one’s body fit and engaged in regular sporting activities especially wholesome exercises like swimming and running is of prime importance.

Picking up a music instrument or photography is a popular option and can be a good stress reliever. Occasional family trips and vacations can also work wonders. Having a hospital policy or an interdepartmental policy where work is equally shared, with good coverage in case a doctor is sick should be implemented. It should be realized that having some amount of stress is harmless; also completely removing stress from one’s life may never be possible.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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