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Should doctors take drugs that enhance cognitive abilities to help them cope better at work?

Extract from article in BMJ Careers. 

Marika Davies reports:

'Cognitive enhancing drugs are licensed for use to improve cognitive functioning in specific medical disorders such as dementia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and narcolepsy. They also seem to improve memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions in healthy individuals, earning them the nickname “smart drugs” and bringing them to the attention of students, the armed forces, and others in highly skilled and stressful roles.


'Ilina Singh, Professor of Neuroscience and Society at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, suggests that systems should change so that doctors are not so sleep deprived. “I think there are lots of other things that can be done that might help professionals improve their capacity to provide a good service. And those are structural, those aren’t about the individual and individual capabilities.”

Singh says there are other ways of increasing capacity and capability in the cognitive realm. “What I wish is that people would ask other kinds of questions, which is, ‘How do we improve people’s capacity to function cognitively and emotionally in settings where they are having difficulty?’” she says. “Perhaps smart drugs are one way of thinking about that, but there are so many other ways [such as] structural changes, the whole mindfulness thing … so I suppose I wish we could take a more balanced view of it.”'

Read the full article here.


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