Physician Burnout

Physician burnout is a real and growing problem. As healthcare providers begin 2018, instead of just focusing on physical health resolutions like eating healthier or working out more, many of their colleagues suggest focusing on improving mental health, specifically reducing stress in the workplace.

LocumTenens.com recently surveyed physicians and advanced practitioners for their opinions on mental health in their work environment. Out of 2,438 clinicians who responded to the question “how much stress do you face in the workplace,” the majority of physicians answered “a lot of stress” while almost all advanced practitioners were split between “a lot” or “a little” stress.

While clinicians definitely feel stress at work, they’ve developed their own ways of coping. Some of the most frequent responses are listed here:

1. BREATHE. Practice mindful meditation. Take breaks during the day to relax.

“I cope with stress in the workplace by walking and meditating. My exercise includes yoga and tennis. I enjoy the outdoors, especially the ocean. Stress in the workplace is deferred by keeping a positive attitude and detaching.” ~Nurse Practitioner in Occupational Medicine

“I rely on my faith and prayer. I focus on remaining calm and not allowing the chaos to get to me. Also, remembering I am there for the benefit of the patient and putting their needs first gives me purpose in what I am doing.” ~Nurse Practitioner in Critical Care

2. Exercising is one of the best ways to reduce stress and burnout. Whether jogging after your shift, attending a yoga class or taking a walk during your lunch break, find a way to stay active each day.

3. Talking and consulting with colleagues and peers can help. Lean on supportive relationships, including at home. Remember to laugh and have fun! Humor is a great reliever of stress.

“I try to laugh with my colleagues and then go home and enjoy my life outside of work.” ~Psychiatrist

4. Leave work at work. Try compartmentalizing so you don’t take stress home with you.

“Engage in productive activities outside of work that are fun, mentally or physically satisfying, or do things that help to build self-esteem and provide a sense of self-satisfaction. And of course, compartmentalize — leave work at work. Work is only a part of your life. Keeping a balanced work-life perspective is essential in avoiding or alleviating undue or excessive stress.” ~Internal Medicine Physician

5. Take action. Try to make changes at work if there are things that are within your control.

“I go with the flow but try to figure out where the root of the problem lies and try to find resolutions to it.” ~Anonymous

6. Stay positive and keep things in perspective.

“Rise above the petty irritations and when the stress is from important situations, procedures and challenges, focus on what your skillset offers to the situation. Stay alert to the availability and value of assistance from others and remain open to requesting assistance early and often.” ~Obstetrician/Gynecologist

7. Pick up or continue a favorite hobby, like gardening, listening to or performing music, reading, fishing or riding a motorcycle. Or use your hobby and skills to volunteer in your community.

8. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy for stress management. Just because you provide treatment doesn’t mean you can’t benefit yourself.

“I try to exercise a lot and eat healthy to take care of myself, but I have also been in psychotherapy (in and out) for years, which has been the smartest decision of my life.” ~Family Practice Physician

9. Change your workload. Consider telemedicine, going part-time or becoming an independent contractor.

“I quit my last hospital-owned practice because the stress caused by the hospital administration just made it not worth any amount of money. As a locum, the only stress in the workplace I have to deal with is maintaining good patient care, which is far easier and manageable.” ~Gastroenterologist

10. Make sure you take your earned vacation time. You deserve it! Whether you want to tour an exotic locale, visit family in another state or even stay home and relax, make sure you cash in those days you earned.

Going into 2018, physicians and healthcare providers should make sure to prioritize their mental wellbeing as one of their new year’s resolutions if they want to avoid becoming another burnout statistic. Being healthy, both mentally and physically, will ensure their patients are receiving the best possible health care.

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