Emergency doctors as stressed as soldiers

WORKING as an emergency doctor or paramedic is as stressful as being a soldier on the front line, a meeting of anaesthetists has heard.

DR Geoff Healy, an anaesthetist from the UK, says mental training used by elite sports people and soldiers is highly beneficial for medical professionals.

Dr Healy’s team used heart rate monitoring on anaesthetists, consultants and paramedics, measuring their responses before and after they had undergone training to deal with extreme mental stress. The data shows that after teaching certain skills, medical professionals are able to keep their heart rate down and cope better. “By understanding how our bodies deal with and are affected by stress, we can learn some strategies to control it, and sometimes harness it to our advantage, to improve our performance,” Dr Healy said in a statement. “We have been seeing a definite trend towards improved performance ratings with the skills we have been teaching.” The findings were presented at a meeting of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists in Melbourne on Saturday.