ECMA Cares About Preventing Doctor Suicide


Time and time again, people fail to address the scale of suicide and mental illness in the medical profession. Emerald Coast Medical Association wants to change that. By becoming a member of Emerald Coast Medical Association, you will always be supported by our other members and us.

Dr. Leanne Rowe, M.D. wrote an article on the five ways to help prevent doctor suicide, which we want to share with our members.

The first way to help prevent physician suicide is by destigmatizing mental illness for doctors and medical students. Although doctors are the ones who take care of people, they have the same risk factors for mental illness as the general population does. According to Dr. Rowe, when our patients talk about problems within their life, whether they be physical or mental, it can trigger us because of our own history. Having an understanding of our own vulnerabilities can help us when we experience these triggers.

While stress and burnout are recognized as “normal” in medical workplaces, they should be recognized as warning signs of mental illness. Mental illness is known to have a stigma surrounding it, but for doctors, it is even more so. It is important that if a coworker discloses something to you about feeling depressed or burnout that you address it with him and let them know they you do not judge them. That is why Emerald Coast Medical Association is an excellent place for doctors; they can all relieve stress and talk about how they feel without worrying about judgment.

The second way is to encourage doctors and medical students to have their own trusted doctors that they can seek help from if they need it. Although we can recognize the early symptoms of mental illness, we should not treat our coworkers or friends because we can not give them optimal care.

Only about 50 percent of doctors have their own independent doctor, and often times we see our doctor later rather than sooner as we should have. Dr. Rowe believes it is important to have routine mental health screenings.

The third way to prevent physician suicide is by providing optimal management of mental health problems in doctors and medical students. Dr. Rowe has said from experience she often sees doctors with a mixed pattern of depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. All of which can come from being overexposed to patient misery, violence, abuse, and death, including suicide.

Physician suicide is actually more common than suicide in the general population. Structured formal mindful-based cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for doctors suffering from mental health disorders.

The fourth way is by changing our medical culture. A medical career is challenging and complex, and doctors require support. Many medical workplaces do not give doctors the time off that they need or help them out when they ask for a lower workload; this can put pressure on them and lead to them experiencing burnout.

According to Dr. Rowe, recent families of young doctors who have committed suicide have described the medical field as “soul-crushing.” Bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace can cause safety issues, especially for doctors who are predisposed to mental health issues. Changing medical culture will take time but is well worth it as it will be beneficial in the long run.

The fifth and final way to prevent doctor suicide is by making our medical organizations work for us. Engage with your medical organization and work together to present a powerful unified voice of advocacy for doctors at a local, national, and global level. Medical organizations can provide more ways for doctors to deal with their mental health, such as conferences and training in care for mental illness.

It is important to remind ourselves of what makes us enjoy being doctors and why we chose this career in the first place. Coming together as a united team is what will really help to prevent physician suicide. Emerald Coast Medical Association is here to help prevent it, and we are ready for you to be a part of our team.

Unite with us, and help us prevent doctor suicide.

Join Today

You can find the original article by Dr. Leanne Rowe, M.D., here:

Providing Support to Those Experiencing Burnout

Emerald Coast Medical Association is aware that physician and nurse burnout is becoming more and more of a problem in the workforce. Recent reports have shown that factors such as the generation and role of the nurse can have a major impact on whether they experience burnout. We aim to provide our members with a compassionate community that supports each other through tough times. Our members communicate with each other to aid in problem-solving.

When looking at the resiliency of nurses across different roles and age groups, it was found that nurses who are millennials struggle the most with burnout. Burnout can also be referred to when talking about “activation,” meaning the ability to find joy or value in work. Being able to balance work and life outside of work is one of the most crucial ways to avoid burnout. Our members have access not only to each other but also to events put on by our association to relieve stress and allow each other to decompress.

Nurses with low levels of activation and decompression are usually more likely to leave their job. It is important to support nurses mental health in addition to physicians because of the various stress factors. It is essential to identify what makes a nurse want to stay at their job and find the joy and value in it to keep them working. Making sure people are activated is one of the most significant ways to make an impact on someone’s work drive.

Christy Dempsey, the chief nursing officer at Press Ganey, talked about how disengaged nurses represent $22,000 in lost productivity a year on average. It was also mentioned that disengaged nurses attitudes could affect others in the office and in turn cause low productivity.

Finding a way to accommodate nurses depending on their generation and role is one of the easiest fixes to burnout. Decompression is crucial to enjoying work, and ECMA has events that allow our members to do so, such as the CME beach retreat. Dempsey also stated that recognizing nurses for their work can cause a positive reaction and make them more eager to work. At ECMA meetings we take the time to recognize our members and spotlight on special topics, giving them the boost they need to continue work. The support in the ECMA community is overwhelming, and the perfect way to fight back against nurse burnout.

Not a member? Find out more about the benefits of joining by clicking below.

Membership Benefits