Early Career Physician Mental Health and Wellness

Early Career Physician Mental Health and Wellness: A Clinical Casebook 1st Edition

Young adulthood is a time of substantial transition, growth, risk, and opportunity. Transitioning out of adolescence involves developmental challenges including, but not limited to, establishment of independence, crystallization of personality, navigation of intimate relationships, and laying the groundwork for a career. This stage of life is also the time when psychiatric conditions and other mental health issues often first present, with the possibility of delaying or derailing these developmental milestones. For these reasons, young adulthood is a critical period – one that can set stage for the rest of a lifetime.

Medical trainees (including medical students and residents) and junior attendings are typically young adults. The usual demands of young adulthood can be intensified and aggravated by the specific challenges faced in medical education and the subsequent responsibilities of working as a physician, from work load and work hours to caring for the very sick, to financial debt, and to the pressures of the “culture” of medicine and medical institutions. Generally resilient and competent as a population, physicians in training and early in their careers face substantial stress and often benefit from, or require, psychiatric care. The alternative is grim. Studies estimate that physicians have the highest rate of suicide of any professional group, with almost one suicide daily by a physician [1, 2]. Difficulties may start early, with some estimates indicating that up to one-half of medical students will experience burnout, and more than 10% will have suicidal ideation over a 12-month period [3].

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