According to Medscape‘s 2019 National Physicians Burnout & Depression Report, 40% of physicians—and 50% of female physicians—are burned out.
Healing is by no means an easy job. Physicians experience mass amounts of red tape that they have to cut through before they can practice, prescribe, and treat patients. All of this contributes to the increasing number of physicians that report feeling burnout in healthcare. In what ways can we mitigate and prevent this growing problem?
First, you need to know how to recognize signs of burnout in you or other physicians at your practice. UNC Health Talk defines these symptoms as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a reduced sense of accomplishment. If you or the ones around you seem to have lost the meaning in their work, it may be time to step up. Recommend one of these four tips to mitigate burnout…
Focus on YOU
When we say focus on you, we mean focus on you as a person and not you as a care provider. As these signs of physician burnout start to peak their weary heads up, it is time to take a step back. Start spending time engaging in activities that make you happy again. This could mean committing several hours a week or a day to physical activities or other restorative activities. Decreasing your stress, at times, can be as easy as investing more time in taking care of yourself.
Focus on the Ones You Love
The job of a physician is time demanding and physically draining. We don’t have to tell you that for you to know it to be true. In an effort to help you reclaim your sense of self as an individual, it may time to start focusing more time on your loved ones. Yes, this means when you get home from work you close your computer screen. This may require you to delegate some of your after-hours work to other members of your care team to take care of. You may be hesitant, however, it is imperative that you do it anyway.
Control What You Can
There will always be elements of your work life that are outside of your control. This includes, but is not limited to, your mandate for EHR software, patient’s following health plans, and staff following procedures. With all of this being said, you must identify what you can and cannot control in your workplace. Your energy needs to be focused on delivering care to patients who are in need, not focusing on elements of your practice that are out of your hands. If procedures you can control are causing you undue stress, it is time reexamine those procedures and find a better way to perform them. For instance, if your EHR system is causing you or your staff issues, it may be time to invest in training. Knowing how to properly move throughout your EHR system helps to eliminate stress while performing charting duties.
Ask for Help
Asking for help should never be something to be feared. This is not a sign of weakness or contention. If physician burnout symptoms start to appear, please seek help from a clinician who is versed in psychology. They will be able to help you navigate this emotional storm and get you back to doing what you enjoy in your work. Also, reach out to colleagues at your practice. Ask them to step up and help relieve you of clinical burden. There will be other members of your staff that can help with other clinical work adding to your stress.
Physician burnout is not something you need to battle alone. Your EHR vendor, friends, family, and staff can help.