17 Nov Healing Physician Burnout
Physicians and healthcare workers are experiencing increasing depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems related to working overtime, poor work-life balance, and a feeling of powerlessness. Physician burnout affects:
· Doctors providing care
· Patients receiving care
· Healthcare organizations experiencing high physician turnover
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on the medical workforce, with an astounding 55% of frontline healthcare workers reporting feelings of burnout. The mental and physical exhaustion due to workplace stress that has become commonplace in the medical community cannot continue unchecked.
Use these strategies to prevent burnout experienced as a physician.
Learn the warning signs
It’s essential to recognize the signs of burnout so you can seek help and relief. These warning signs can include:
· Loss of motivation
· Impaired cognitive function/an increasing number of mistakes
· Difficulty sleeping
· Increased negativity and frustration
· Lack of enjoyment in life
· Feelings of failure
It often feels like the best way to get out from underneath a heavy workload is to do more work faster. However, this technique is impossible to sustain. An effective way to prevent burnout is to eat well, get enough rest, and exercise regularly. For physicians, this often requires some creativity when confronted with a cafeteria filled with comfort food and a schedule packed from dawn until night. Plan ahead, choose plenty of vegetables and prioritize cardio—even if that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Pursue work-life balance
After far too many months of a crushing pandemic workload, it may sound difficult—if not impossible—to downshift. Doctors are often trained to put their own needs last. But this culture of overwork burns out its resources. Without time to recover, spend time doing enjoyable tasks, and rest, physicians cannot sustain their workload. Learn to set limits to protect the balance of work and life to enjoy both.
Recognizing the warning signs of burnout, taking care of your health, and seeking a work-life balance are good strategies to prevent chronic stress from getting worse. But what happens when you’re in the middle of burnout? Use these strategies to seek help.
Talk about it
Physicians are the ultimate caretakers, expected to soldier on and provide help to others. It can be difficult to admit when you need care. But with more than half of healthcare workers reporting burnout, you certainly aren’t alone. Talk to a peer, mentor, or health professional and share your feelings. It is likely your bravery will be met with empathy and compassion, and you’ll be able to find a path through burnout by sharing the experience.
Share mental health resources
Suggest your department post a list of resources for mental health help that workers can contact anonymously. Peer sharing isn’t an option for everyone, but many would benefit from a safe place to seek help for stress, grief, and trauma.
Create a physician wellness culture
We hope the pandemic is waning, but it is likely the country will face another health crisis in the future. Physicians will be better able to weather burnout if the healthcare industry creates a community of wellness within the profession. Workplace practices that encourage physician wellness could help prevent burnout.
Consider locum tenens roles
If it isn’t possible to reduce the stress in your current position, but you would like to continue practicing, locum tenens work might be an option. Annashae places physicians in a wide range of short- and long-term roles with flexible scheduling, competitive pay, and work-life balance. Contact our physician recruiters today.