Gazeta dla Lekarzy celebrates its 10th anniversary

Alicja Barwicka M.D., Ph.D.

We all experience stress, but for most of us these situations are associated with negative emotions, so we tend not to expect them. There are, however, certain types of stress known in the literature as eustress, which have positive overtones, generating optimistic emotions and motivating to action. Since stress is always a reflection of an imbalance between the organism's capabilities and the demands of the situation caused by the stressor, the organism very quickly tries to restore this balance by taking remedial action. If fate has unexpectedly granted us the prize of 5 000 000 PLN, our mental balance has been strongly damaged, and for the organism, it is extremely strong stress. In medical terms, therefore, we are dealing with a significant disturbance of homeostasis. Such a strong stimulus quickly causes an increase in blood serum levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline, as well as free fatty acids and triglycerides. Fortunately, the situation does not last long, because such stressors enjoy our sympathy, so we quickly establish a list of people who should not be notified about winning, calculate the cost of potential purchases, and our mental balance and biochemical parameters return to baseline without leaving repercussions.

Life by scale

The concept of stress was first introduced by Hans Hugon Selye dedicating many years of work to the subject, but the greatest development of scientific research on issues related to stress and its consequences occurred in the last decades of the 20th century. In 1967, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe of Washington University in Seattle described an alternative concept of stress based on the concept of stressors. They developed a scale of 43 life events that were ranked according to the amount of remedial action the body needed to adapt to the stressful event. The relative strength of stressful situations was examined by assigning the stimulus a corresponding conventional value of stress units on a scale of 0 to 100. This resulted in the popular Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) questionnaire, which is still used today.

When we violate the balance ...

In this questionnaire, we can find several commonly occurring stressful situations, which can affect each of us, and the predominant ones are those with a negative emotional tinge, generating sadness, anxiety, or anger. Social Readjustment Rating Scale is such a useful tool, that to evaluate various random situations, its extended version was created, taking into account a much greater number of stressors. There are many positive situations, which should generate only joy (e.g. going on vacation). However, our body also treats them as a disturbance of balance and a challenge to be faced. So it activates its defensive forces, the pituitary gland, and adrenal glands prepare for biochemical warfare in the same way as in the case of a threat related to, for example, breaking into the house. And yet we don't mind such reactions, because we like positively stressful challenges very much indeed.

You can always change your profession

As we all know, professional matters can provide us with many stressful experiences. While a stable professional situation and lack of new tasks do not stress the pituitary-adrenal axis, change of duties or working conditions can generate stress calculated by SRRS at 29 - 36 points. If going further, we decide to completely change the profession, the stress (no matter if positive) is correspondingly even more intensified. In the history of medicine, there are many examples of physicians who earlier or later changed their profession, resigned from medical studies (Henryk Sienkiewicz), or expanded their practice by pursuing other activities, such as Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński. It was difficult for some, but not all of them found a place in history thanks to their difficult decision.

Twenty-eight or thirty-eight?

When 10 years ago Dr. Krystyna Knypl decided to start the Gazeta dla Lekarzy (Newspaper for Doctors) using her medical knowledge and rich clinical experience, she probably did not think that this decision would turn out to be so successful. At a time when every publishing house is struggling with financial difficulties and patches up "economic holes" by placing advertisements, it might seem that a magazine without advertisements cannot survive in the brutal publishing market. And here is a surprise! Not only did it survive, but it is growing in strength and power. Apart from factual texts from various fields of medicine, we find here a lot of the latest information gathered in short news-forms, always with a reference to the source material, issues from the history of medicine and the history of our medical families, as well as texts on the ills (not only professional) of the medical community. The growing number of national and international readers is not only impressive but also a constant encouragement for the editorial team to work on new issues. I think that the scoring of stress units defining situations accompanying this excellent project would require modification of the SRRS scale, as 100 points of satisfaction are not enough. For the time being, however, following the scientifically developed and still valid SRRS scale, it has to be noted that the founder and editor-in-chief of Gazeta dla Lekarzy constantly generate 28 stress units due to her "outstanding personal achievements". However, as life requires constant development, I would like to congratulate her and extend my best wishes that she continues to develop in the direction of an upward "change in financial status", if only due to her high score (38 stress units according to SRRS scale). With an active way of life and enjoying the publishing success an increase of 10 stress units should not be a problem, and every new penny would be the beginning of new "outstanding personal achievements".

In celebrating a decade of business, one must already be thinking about the next one. For the medical community, the current years are difficult. Some people are running away from their medical profession. There are, of course, objective reasons for this, but think about it, colleagues. You can always leave, but not everyone will be able to become a fulfilled publisher or a great writer.

To those who hesitate, I recommend

- First of all, become independent, because according to the SRRS scale "trouble with the boss" generates as many as 23 stress units,

- secondly - to read Gazeta dla Lekarzy (Newspaper for Doctors), which will allow us to broaden our knowledge, care for our professional dignity, and if necessary comfort us in (not only) professional hardships.


 Alicja foto

Alicja Barwicka

GdL 2 /2022