Skip to content

Workload results in another doctor leaving

Humboldt is losing another doctor. Dr. Nevine Mahrous will be departing the Humboldt Clinic on July 29, leaving the practice with just seven doctors when last year at this time, they had nine.
Dr. Nevine Mahrous will be leaving the Humboldt Clinic at the end of July after working there for five years.

Humboldt is losing another doctor.
Dr. Nevine Mahrous will be departing the Humboldt Clinic on July 29, leaving the practice with just seven doctors when last year at this time, they had nine.
The Humboldt Clinic services between 30,000 and 35,000 people in a large region. With the drop in staffing levels in 2010, all eight doctors at the clinic were forced to close their practices to new patients in the past year. This has left many without a chance to have a family physician in the community.
Recruitment efforts so far have not resulted in any new doctors being hired. And the increased workload put on the rest of the doctors in the practice has now resulted in another doctor leaving.
Mahrous told the Journal in an interview on July 7 that she is leaving Humboldt to go to Ontario, where she has family, to take some much-needed time off.
"The reason I'm moving is that I've been working so hard," said Mahrous, who is originally from Egypt. Humboldt has been her first stop in Canada, and she's been here for five years.
Mahrous has been putting in between 70 to 80 hours of work a week, between seeing patients at the clinic, taking call at the emergency room at the hospital, and working with her obstetrics patients.
Always, she explained, after she has taken call for the hospital for 24 hours, she works at the clinic the very next day.
That can make for days without proper sleep.
For example, she said, one week, she had one of her obstetrics patients deliver her baby on Wednesday night, which kept her up for most of it, then she took her 24-hour on-call shift at the hospital on Thursday, and worked at the clinic on Friday, seeing her usual average of about 40 patients a day.
That's a lot of work in three days with only minimal sleep.
And when you consider that work days at the clinic do not end when the last patient goes home - there are usually between two to four hours of paperwork for the doctors to complete before they can call it a day - it gets to be too much.
"I felt overwhelmed," Mahrous said of the workload. "I can't keep doing that anymore. It's taking a toll on my health... I definitely need to slow down."
As a physician, she knows her limits. And she's reached them now.
So she asked her partners in the clinic for time off to slow down.
She is not taking a leave of absence, she clarified. She is leaving. However, she added, "if things get better, I don't mind considering coming back again."
Mahrous' departure means that the thousands of patients she sees are now without a family doctor as well.
She had thought that closing her practice to new patients in April would lessen her workload.
"But it didn't help. It didn't get better," she said.
"I've been doing the best I could. I gave it my heart and soul for five years... I was planning for more," she said. "But physically I can't do it anymore."
She did a lot of obstetrics in the community, and she loved that part of her job, she noted.
"But when you add everything up - obstetrics, emergency call....," she said, it just got to be too much.
Mahrous is not going to another practise right away. She plans to take some time off, and find out what's in store for her next.
"I'll at least slow down for a while," she smiled. "I'm tired. I need to take care of myself as well. I hope people will be understanding."
At the same time, she noted, she understands the frustration of the people of this region over losing another family doctor.
Her co-workers and partners in the practice have been very understanding of her decision to leave, Mahrous said.
The loss of another doctor will put a strain on those who are left, she admitted.
"I hate to do that to them, but when you have to, you have to."
Humboldt, she said, has been a very nice place to live.
"I've enjoyed working here very much. It's been a wonderful experience," she said. "My colleagues are more than wonderful. We feel like a big family. It's a very friendly environment....
"Honestly, I would definitely like to come back. But I need time to relax and slow down. I like this place. It's been a great experience."
The staff at both clinic and hospital are professional and friendly, she noted.
"I enjoy it," she said of her work here. "I just can't keep up with the workload."
That workload has increased dramatically in the last few months, she noted, and it, the reason Mahrous is leaving, is also the reason that Humboldt is having trouble attracting doctors, she believes.
But having more doctors here is the key to keeping the ones we have, she believes.
"More doctors makes your whole schedule much better," she said. "You don't have to do call as often."
It's a bit of a catch-22. To keep our doctors, we need to get more in. And the reason we don't have more is because there aren't enough here to handle the workload.
What can people do to ensure that more doctors don't leave?
They can be more understanding when they call for an appointment at the clinic and can't get in right away.
"We're all working as hard as we can," Mahrous said.
People can get frustrated and upset when they can't get in to see their doctor right away, but that's not because the doctors are not working. It's because, simply, there's not enough of them to spread around.
Another way people can help - and a suggestion that has been made by other doctors in the past - is by not going to the emergency room at 3 a.m. for something minor.
To treat victims of a collision, to help someone having a heart attack - for these things, doctors will race down to the hospital at any time of the day or night and be happy to do it.
But when they get called out of bed to treat something minor that could have waited a couple of more hours, that's when they get a little upset.
"People have to realize we are working the next day.. or in a few hours in the clinic for a full day," Mahrous said. So when they get called out of bed at 3 a.m. for a non-urgent problem, it makes a long work day even longer.
People just need to use common sense, she said.
Things perhaps would be different, she indicated, if we had more physicians here. But we don't.
"If these are the only resources we have, we have to figure out a way (to make it work)," Mahrous said. And people have to do their part.