This One Thing Is Creating More Burnout Among Surgeons

The combination of brilliant minds and overwhelming work can be catastrophic.

Courtesy of sheff/Shutterstock
Courtesy of sheff/Shutterstock

The profession of surgery…presents an interesting state of affairs: it attracts some of the best and brightest, but is heavily reliant on tools, manual labor, routine, sacrifice, a large support staff, and a narrow focus. This combination can represent, at extremes, the perfect sweet spot or the perfect recipe for burnout.

The phenomenon of burnout in the medical profession poses a conundrum similar to the nature vs. nurture debate. How much can be improved by changing the environment? Think: electronic medical records, work hours, insurance authorizations. How much can be improved by changing physicians? Think: self-care, meditation, coaching and counseling. As with nature vs. nurture, both are relevant. The pessimist in me believes that the transformation of the healthcare environment is necessary, but a very long haul (and not buoyed by any obvious profit motive). The optimist in me, however, knows that physicians are resourceful problem solvers. Once empowered to advocate not only for their patients but also for themselves, great strides can be made, especially with the right tools and services in place. 

Excerpted from Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Firlik, MD with permission from the author.

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