American Journal of Medicine’s recent study shows physician burnout, a serious issue in the medical community, jumped to 54% over the last 3 years. Physicians today are dealing with an incredible amount of stress as they confront growing administrative burdens, rising operating costs, new medical technology adoptions and the increasing patient demand for frontline care.
Dr. Sean Alemi, Otolaryngologist from New York, has found a rewarding remedy that helps him reset and fight burnout–– international medical missions.
“For me, finding the time and space to reset and remind myself of why I became a doctor in the first place has been the perfect antidote to burnout. I have always enjoyed physical activity as a way to reset my mind and gain perspective on some of the emotional challenges of my daily work. But I was surprised to find that the most transformative experiences did not come exercise, or a vacation, rather through international medical missions,” shared Dr. Alemi.
Despite the long hours of travel and the time it takes to organize a medical team of volunteers while also transporting large necessary medical equipment – Dr. Alemi believes “it’s all worth it” and puts everything back into perspective, helping him reclaim his calling and remember why he chose to be in medicine.
On his recent medical mission to Ica, Peru, Dr. Alemi treated patients ranging from ages 4 weeks to 21 years old, mainly performing cleft lip & palate surgeries. His patients would travel 24+ hours, on horseback, trains, buses, just to see Dr. Alemi.
In most cases,this was the very first time they had ever met a physician.
With these medical missions, Dr. Alemi’s small procedure leaves children forever changed with the new ability to speak coherently, eat and swallow properly, and exchange a smile.
Finding the time and money to travel on a resident’s salary is tough. Dr. Alemi wants all doctors to know that there are resources to help. For example, his most recent medical mission to Inca, Peru was funded by The Dox Foundation, which provides grants for medical missions to underserved communities across the globe. The Dox Foundation offers monthly grants to Doximity members, a professional medical network with over 70 percent of all U.S. physicians. Since its launch in 2017, the Dox Foundation has donated over $200k to support medical missions in over 33 countries.
“I’m sincerely grateful to have had the opportunity to partake in a humanitarian mission that allowed me to remove myself from my routine and temporarily break free from daily stresses. It changed my perspective on my profession and it felt empowering to know that there is not only a community of support, but non-profit organizations that can financially help physicians across the country do the same,” said Dr. Alemi.
Although physician burnout is not curable, there are ways to alleviate symptoms. By empowering physicians to dedicate their time and get back to doing what they love– helping patients. Medical missions can have a lasting impact, leaving physicians feeling better equipped mentally and emotionally to be as enthusiastic about their job going forward as they were on Match Day.