We talk a lot about burnout both around here and in the medical community, which got us to thinking about literal burning, as in the over 500 fires burning in our home province of British Columbia. We've also heard that California is experiencing its worst forest fire season on record - that's definitely saying something. What good, if any, can come from all of this burning?
Believe it or not, some forest fires can be beneficial. Providing a clearing for animals, removing disease and allowing sunlight to enrich the soil once otherwise obscured. Obviously, the magnitude of the fire, proximity to human habitation and the ability to control it, determine if a fire is welcome or not. At 550 in our province, we've obviously tipped the scale.
The same goes for physician burnout. At low levels, symptoms of burnout might allow us to recognize the need to slow down, make some changes and get some plausible control over the situation, but when we're at this epidemic level, it's infringing on physician well-being and actual survival. With over 50% of physicians reporting symptoms of burnout, the risk is extreme and there's no sunlight penetrating all the thick smoke. It's grey and unpleasant.
We need control and containment. The fires need helicopters and people on the ground fighting. Physicians need leadership and collegial support. It's the only way through this smoky landscape to see the good again.