Over the past 25 years, numerous studies have shown an average of 1 in 3 doctors suffer from symptomatic physician burnout on any given day, and recent studies have been showing something more like 50% of US doctors experiencing burnout.
With the crazy schedules and the intense work, it’s not necessarily surprising. But as burnout becomes more and more of an epidemic, it’s crucial we learn how to combat and identify physician burnout for the sake of the doctor and the patient.
- Emotional Exhaustion: Drained after a day of work with multiple hospital rounds and the thought of having to be on call on your “coming day off”. It’s totally understandable why this happens to so many of us physicians.
- Lack of Accomplishment: Oftentimes, burnout will prevent us from seeing the fruits of our labors and the reason we work so hard. This may end up in us saying “what’s the use?” or even a nagging feeling to quit.
- Lack of Sympathy and Empathy: When we get exhausted, it’s human nature to turn inward in a desire to recharge. However, this can often lead to depersonalization and a lack of care for patients. And while annoyance from time to time is part of life (and part of the job), this steps over the bounds of normal frustrations and into something more destructive
First off, this article is far from being comprehensive with treatments, but I want to explore one area of success that may often get overlooked.
Connecting With Loved Ones
Sometimes, when we’re tired, we need rest. But there are other times when what we need is to actually do something else we love. A physician’s life is busy and hectic, and we often miss out on spending time with the people we love. But believe it or not, a great way to recharge is simply to spend time with people who love you. Trying going out to a park, scheduling a catch-up with someone you haven’t seen in awhile, and simply aim to connect, learn, and invest in another person’s life.
Again, while this isn’t a fix-all, it can be very helpful when we take our eyes off our own situation for a bit, and thus come back anew with fresh eyes so we can better assess our current circumstances.