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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 133  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 449-450

How to survive in medicine: Personally and professionally

Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi 110 029, India

Date of Web Publication29-Apr-2011

Correspondence Address:
Rita Sood
Department of Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Sood R. How to survive in medicine: Personally and professionally. Indian J Med Res 2011;133:449-50

How to cite this URL:
Sood R. How to survive in medicine: Personally and professionally. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2011 [cited 2021 Feb 24];133:449-50. Available from:

Jenny Firth-Cozens and Jamie Harrison (Wiley-Blackwell, UK) 2010. 127 pages. Price: not mentioned.

ISBN 978-1-4051-9271-2

Medicine is a career that is both very rewarding and stressful. Starting life as a doctor is one of the highest challenges one can face. Most doctors would feel satisfied knowing that they are able to help people and are useful to them. Meeting a large variety of patients and people could be very interesting but challenging too.

Increasing levels of stress and depression among doctors have been reported from across the globe. Their inability to cope up with situations and pressures has led to an increase in the incidence of substance abuse and suicides. These observations seem to have motivated the authors to take up a long-term longitudinal study on 300 doctors starting from their fourth year in medical school, to see which causes of stress and depression were job related and which were personal. A large part of the book has been based on the research literature about the difficulties and stressors of medicine as a career and also from the studies which have looked at the interventions that have been found to be successful in handling these situations at the workplace. It also reflects authors' own experience as a clinician and coach working with doctors of all ages.

The book is divided into the two parts: the first part comprising chapters one and two deals with issues related to individuals themselves and those related to the job being responsible for higher stress levels in doctors. The second part comprises chapters 3 to 13, and deals more with the various stressful situations and the ways to handle the stress.

The first part looks at the role of organizational culture and management and the quality of teamwork affecting the stress level of its employees. There are issues related to the profession itself like dealing with difficult patients, death and suffering, medical errors, complaints and litigation, changing health care infrastructure and expectations from patients and seniors which all add on to the reasons for increasing stress among medical professionals. This section also deals with the influence of various life events, early experiences and individual qualities like emotional intelligence, individual personality styles, gender and the expectations form self and others, on the likelihood of stress and depression occurring later amongst doctors.

The subsequent chapters deal with the issues of work-home balance, the role of individual personality styles and how these styles are interwoven with the demands of the profession and can influence the handling of relationship. The book also gives evidence from literature on the association of stress levels with practicing different specialties as residents and senior doctors. It also gives suggestions as to the choice of specialty according to one's personality type and coping abilities. The chapter 'Dealing with stress' underlines the reality of increased stress among doctors and the importance of recognizing its presence and ways to deal with it effectively, rather than deny it or succumb to it.

The next few chapters deal with the emotions of sadness, depression, anger, the problem of alcohol and substance abuse among doctors and their causes and cures. How to analyze these emotions in themselves and handle them without their affecting one's personal and professional life has been dealt with adequately. Strategies have been described to help doctors make life easier for themselves while dealing with the pressures of the job. Methods have been suggested to manage one's own emotions and to deal with situations in an effective way using various cognitive techniques and relaxation exercises. The last chapter summarizes the primary and secondary preventive measures to avoid the occurrence of stress and stress-related problems in doctors themselves and their team members.

The layout of the book is good and the language is simple. There are many illustrative case histories given in boxes which at many places may help the reader identify with their own issues. There is bibliography at the end of each chapter giving key reference. The index at the end of the book adequately covers most key words.

Since the book is based on the experience of the authors from a 17 year study of doctors' careers and stresses, it has captured most of the problems that doctors might face at workplace and in personal lives at different stages of their career.

Overall, it is a readable book and is a 'must read' for all doctors to not only survive their career as healthy person but to help them gain greater satisfaction and enjoyment from it. Though the book would be found most useful by students and young doctors, it is a valuable resource for all doctors including senior doctors, who may be often required to manage others with problems.


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