In December 2018, the Journal of the American Medical Association published research titled “Proportion of Non–US-Born and Noncitizen Health Care Professionals in the United States in 2016” (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2717463).
They conveyed this research with 164,122 health care professionals. They found out that out of those 164,122 health care professionals, 16.6% were non–US-born. Also, the research showed 20.3% of pharmacists, 23.7% of dentists and 29.1% of physicians were non–US-born.
Based on this result, you can say that the health care industry is a very multinational/multicultural environment. At the same time, many of them work in underserved areas. Thus, it is also true that the health care industry heavily relies on non–US-born professionals. So it is very important to retain non–US-born health care professionals.
An article from Reuters based on the study (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-professions-us-noncitizens/u-s-relies-heavily-on-foreign-born-healthcare-workers-idUSKBN1O32FR) quotes one Doctor’s word “Besides, as we focus more on the wellness of healthcare professionals, the days of working 24/7 non-stop, at least for physicians, are over. The majority of physicians nowadays value a reasonable work-life balance, and that shift would only lead to an increase in demand for more healthcare professionals.”
Work-life balance is very important for all of us, so it is not surprising when you see it says work-life balance is important for medical professionals. However, why is it written in many articles? Probably because many medical professionals don’t feel they have work-life balance in their own lives.
The reason why I wrote the word “work-life balance” is that I’ve been hearing the word “Physician Burnout” lately (https://www.ahrq.gov/prevention/clinician/ahrq-works/burnout/index.html). With their extremely busy schedule, heavy pressure, and high demands, medical professionals feel not only physical but also emotional fatigue. If the fatigue continues, they might be burned out and it may cause those doctors to leave practices. So we can say that burnout is an industry-wide issue. Some research says close to 30% of physicians are burned out (https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/new-survey-shows-decline-physician-burnout) and others say more than 40% of them are burned out (https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2019/01/18/burnout-report). There are some differences in numbers based on researches, but still, we can agree that the percentage of workplace burnout is very high among physicians/health care professionals.
The article from Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertpearl/2019/07/08/physician-burnout-1/#3660068d119e) urges the needs to take actions to tackle with “physician burnout”.
It is the same, if not more serious, for non–US-born medical professionals. Because many of those non–US-born medical professionals left their family members in their home countries. And they might miss someone’s weddings, big gatherings, funerals, and more which happens at home. And it is more likely to feel lonely. What would happen if nobody can support him/her when he/she needs someone’s help? Do you think he/she can help others if he/she feels lonely and unsupported?
Even if they have their family in the US, it might also happen that the family members face challenging to adjust to the new culture and lifestyle, and to feel a physical distance from the home country. If a doctor was too tired to support an unhappy spouse and/or family member, who can help him/her?
It’d be ideal if they can find people from the same countries, but it might be difficult especially when they get a job in a rural area/underserved area.
So how can we support non–US-born medical professionals and their family members?
If there is anyone/anywhere they can meet/visit to talk about their challenges, thoughts, and feelings where they feel safe and judgment-free, it would be ideal. Have you experienced a wonderful discussion and/or brainstorm session when your idea sparked and excitement arose? Talk to someone who can ask high-quality questions to provoke your thoughts is very valuable. By having a quality conversation about your own issues once a week or once every two weeks, your motivation often goes up. And you have better ideas about your life and you can feel better on a daily basis.
Who could do that?
There are different kinds of people who are good at, but a coach is one of the best professionals for that purpose.