These are the stories of how physicians are bullied

Nobody punched me in the face.  Maybe I would have preferred being punched in the face, though.  And yes,  I was bullied.  I’m not going to talk about my own experience in this post however, because I already have post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience.  I’m not ready to revisit it in detail yet.

I don’t need to talk about myself to tell you about bullying in the medical arena.  I know a lot of other people who have experienced it, and their experiences are plenty to talk about.  Some of these people are still in their workplaces.  Others have left and moved on to better things.  Some had to leave medicine entirely to get away.  But in each case, it profoundly damaged the physician’s self-esteem and her trust in herself and her colleagues.  That, in turn, damaged the ability to care for patients in the best way possible, because it caused self-doubt and made it hard to ask for help.

Let me start with the story of a younger colleague working in an academic system.  She is the most junior person in a group of subspecialists.  She came into the practice as a full-time clinician, with the promise that she could reduce her clinical sessions as she took on teaching and research projects. However, the senior doctors in the practice were happy to take advantage of her junior status and assign all urgent visits and new patients to her, lightening their own clinical loads.  She very quickly was so busy with patients that her schedule was full and even double-booked at times, and she often saw patients straight through lunch time.  In addition, she often had inadequate support staff and found she was sometimes left alone with patients in the office after hours, or had to do tasks that seemed like they should be done by support staff.

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