Hospital dramas abound on TV, creating intense but sometimes skewed depictions of health care work environments. It’s true that doctors sometimes work amid throngs of blue-gowned nurses and technicians, with ambulance sirens wailing in the background and gruesomely injured victims being wheeled through the door. But doctors can also work in quieter clinic conditions, out in the field or in research laboratories. In most cases, a doctor requires working conditions that are safe, hygienic, professional and adequately stocked.
Part of the Team
Although doctors still sometimes work in solo practices, it’s become more common for physicians to work for large hospitals, group practices or health care organizations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even for individual practitioners, doctors still rely on nurses and technicians to support their care. In larger workplaces, doctors share patients with other members of a physician team to facilitate more regular work hours, more specialized care and more collaborative problem solving. Because physicians make informed decisions based on the data, observations and recommendations made by other specialists, it’s crucial that doctors have a professional, cooperative work environment staffed by teamwork-minded people.
Squeaky Clean, 24/7
Doctors work intimately with the human body, using diagnostic tools and observations to heal illnesses and repair injuries. To perform examinations and surgeries safely, a clean, sterile work environment is required. Physicians wear protective uniforms or gowns when necessary, including safety gear such as latex gloves and eyewear. When doctors must be exposed to radiation, they don lead aprons. Because hospitals and other medical facilities are frequently home to diseases, bacteria, contaminants and infections, staff workers must take extra care to maintain a sterile workplace to protect employees, families and patients.
Fluid and Flexible
Hospitals regularly triage patients, assessing the degree of urgency related to their injuries or illness in order to prioritize care. Doctors require a flexible work environment, since priorities might change throughout the day depending on emerging cases. Overly rigid scheduling or processes could result in less-effective patient care. Doctors should have the ability to adjust treatments or recommended procedures as necessary to encourage a better patient outcome.
The Reality of Health Care Workplaces
What doctors require and what doctors experience sometimes differ, unfortunately. If you’re considering becoming a doctor, know that most physicians work in intense, highly stressful work environments that sometimes lack adequate staffing or resources needed to provide quality care, according to Modern Medicine. Poor working conditions, long hours and other negative factors can result in physicians feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Doctors must also sometimes work within the constraints of expectations or rules established by health care employers, resulting in case overloads or rushed decision-making.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Work Environment
- Illinois Worknet Center: Doctors - Working Conditions
- Doctor Mana: Job Environment For General Doctors
- Modern Medicine: Physician Working Conditions and the Effects on Medical Practice
- Well at Work Research Unit: Young Doctors' Health: How Do Working Conditions Affect Attitudes, Health and Performance?
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images