This story was first published on the 17th October 2017 for Pomegranate, a podcast of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Subscribe to the series on iTunes Store or Android.

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The World Medical Association has just updated the Declaration of Geneva (Physician’s Oath) to include the clause, “I will attend my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.” This is in recognition of the often reported figures about burnout, depression and suicide in the health workforce.

These rates are typically twofold higher than they are in the general population, according to studies from New Zealand, Australia and around the world. Causes often given for psychiatric distress in the medical profession are the gruelling hours, the pressure of perfection, the unforgiving culture and the stigma associated with mental health issues. This episode examines how the system might be shaped to improve physician wellbeing.

Guests: Dr Geoff Toogood FRACP (Alfred Hospital), Dr Margaret Kay FRACGP (University of Queensland; Medical Director, Queensland Doctors’ Health Program), Dr Hilton Koppe FRACGP.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please seek help—call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


Produced by Mic Cavazzini. Recording assistance from Michelle Ransom-Hughes and Rebecca Fary.  Music courtesy of Kai Engel (“Highway to the Stars”), Cory Gray (“Low Rollers”), Blue Dot Sessions(“Periodicals”) and Lee Rosevere (“Here’s the Thing”). Photo via iStock. Executive producer Anne Fredrickson.