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Ann Arbor Psychologist Says Physician Suicide Awareness Day Even More Important During Pandemic

Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine

Mental health is on a lot of people’s minds these days as we continue to try and stay healthy and strong during our current global health crisis.  We hear a lot about the “men and women on the front lines,” and that means our health care workers, doctors, and nurses who have been dealing with unprecedented health challenges in unprecedented times due to COVID-19.

September 17th is "National Physician Suicide Awareness Day."  WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with Dr Anne Dohrenwend, a psychologist who serves as St. Joseph Mercy Health System's Regional Wellness Coach for Physicians in Ann Arbor.

Anne Dohrenwend
Credit St. Joseph Mercy Health System / stjoeshealth.org
Dr. Anne Dohrenwend, St. Joseph Mercy's Regional Wellness Coach for Physicians.

Dr. Dohrenwend says nationwide there is about a 50% burnout rate for physicians who sometimes work up to 80 hours a week making life and death decisions.  She says medical errors and hours of required paperwork weigh heavily on medical professionals as well.  She says it has been extremely difficult for doctors during the current pandemic as they struggle to obtain enough and the proper equipment to treat COVID-19 patients and watch them struggle and sometimes die alone due to visitation restrictions.

She says it is rare for the St. Joseph Mercy Health System to have someone like her in a position to help physicians deal with the many stresses of their job.  She says they have created a great number of resources to help doctors and nurses better cope with the current challenging times and the demands of being a physician which were present before our current global health crisis even began.  She says physicians are facing increased responsibilities and decreased time to take care of all the responsibilities they now have.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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