According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, physician burnout is a long-term stress reaction that manifests over time due to emotional fatigue, depersonalization, and an absence or low sense of personal accomplishment. Long shifts, demanding pace, and an increase in EHR use and administrative responsibilities are just a few of the factors that can make you and your peers susceptible to burnout.
However, as a recent Physicians Practice article indicates, like everyone else, clinicians have pressures outside of their jobs that impact their professional satisfaction and well-being. Stressors from financial concerns, to social isolation, to family matters can also contribute to feeling depressed, overwhelmed, and hopeless.
If you’re interested in taking measures to better cope with physician burnout, read on. The following suggestions, with a little help from your relatives and friends, can improve your outlook and job satisfaction.
- Take time to deal with personal problems (and ask for assistance when you need it).
As a provider, taking care of patients is your calling. When a private matter needs your undivided attention, too, you may be compelled to put it on the backburner because you don’t want to “let down” those in your care or the leadership at your facility. In addition, you may be reluctant to enlist the help of a family member or trusted friend because you don’t want to burden them or you think the problem is something you could better handle alone — when you can get to it.
In truth, if you don’t schedule time off or make time to get a personal issue under control, you’re doing your patients, colleagues, and healthcare organization—not to mention your loved ones and yourself—a great disservice. Devoting the time and energy required to handle urgent business on the home front can decrease stress you experience during the workday.
- Actively seek moral support and suggestions.
Maybe you feel those with whom you are closest would worry about you if you told them about work-related challenges you’re experiencing. Or, perhaps you simply think they wouldn’t understand. Still, even if they don’t know about the intricacies of your role and day, they know you and have probably noticed you are troubled by something.
Spouses, significant others, parents, and longtime friends care about you and your well-being and can be significant sources of comfort and wisdom. Just sharing your concerns with those you love and trust can make you feel better, and they could come up with some innovative solutions, as noted in Physicians Practice’s “Ask Your Family for Help With Burnout.”
- Manage stress by socializing, taking vacations, and other pursuits.
There’s no way around it: you and your fellow clinicians practice in taxing work environments. While avoiding stress altogether is unlikely, there are steps you can take to better manage it. In addition to arranging and attending get-togethers with family and friends, and scheduling time away to decompress, ensure you are getting the sleep you need, eating a balanced diet, and taking part in physical activity.
Some providers find speaking with a professional advisor helpful. A physician career coach, for instance, can be an excellent source of information. What’s more, he or she can provide resources and exercises to help you stay engaged and happy in your practice.