Meanwhile, the issue of physician health is the subject of growing concern throughout the world. Because of its importance, the American Medical Association is joining the British Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association in sponsoring an international conference beginning this weekend in Chicago on ways to help physicians achieve a "work-life" balance.
"Striking a balance between caring for patients and maintaining personal health is one of the most difficult tasks physicians face, but it's imperative physicians make their health a priority for themselves and for their patients," AMA President Cecil Wilson, MD, said in a statement.
As researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have found, taking care of their own health and getting that message across to patients has not always been a physician priority, at least in terms of eating and exercise.
"Talking to cardiology fellows, I just find they are not as attuned to healthy lifestyle behaviors, and sometimes they don't get the training they need," says Elizabeth A. Jackson, MD, MPH, a cardiovascular specialist at the University of Michigan Health System and co-author of the study, referring to internists who were studied. "Often they are busy, just grabbing food on the go, and they are young, too. But their lifestyle habits change over time, and health is thought about in a different way, by older physicians."