Committees  |   November 2014
Self-Control, Willpower and the Role of Ego-Depletion in Physician Anesthesiologists
Author Affiliations
  • Joshua Lumbley, M.D., MBOE
    Committee on Young Physicians
Article Information
Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Pharmacology / Quality Improvement / Committees
Committees   |   November 2014
Self-Control, Willpower and the Role of Ego-Depletion in Physician Anesthesiologists
ASA Monitor 11 2014, Vol.78, 34-35.
ASA Monitor 11 2014, Vol.78, 34-35.
Often, the focus on health and wellness among physician anesthesiologists centers around diet, exercise, sleep and smoking cessation. And while a positive impact on even one of these factors can significantly improve our well-being, the mental fatigue associated with our career is sometimes overlooked. Yes, there is a great deal of attention paid to the emotional anguish that can result from adverse patient outcomes. But what about the day-to-day “grind” associated with the extreme focus and attention to detail that is required of us?
It is well documented that cognitive function is often compromised during activities that demand high degrees of self-control.1  In each of our anesthesia practices, we are faced with myriad complex decision-making processes and episodes of high intensity, leaving us mentally, emotionally and physically drained. After these periods of physical and emotional stress, we are significantly more likely to commit a human error.2  In the past, a substantial focus was placed on the relationship between the physical stress associated with increased work hours and patient/employee-safety concerns; recently, however, attention has been brought to the role that ego-depletion plays in this relationship.3 
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