Physician burnout is a psychological condition experienced by 63% of medical practitioners in the United States. This condition can cause emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and extremely low motivation among doctors and other clinicians. According to the recent Physician Burnout and Depression Report, a disturbing number of physician performs poorly due to the healthcare environment. The time pressure, hectic schedule, emotional burden, psychological intensity, and physical exhaustion they experience almost daily often lead to burnout.
Burnout takes a toll not just on the doctor’s overall health but also on their patients’ safety and well-being. It is also associated with diagnostic errors, poor professionalism, and low patient satisfaction. To avoid these, it is important to recognize the early signs of physician burnout and take action before it worsens. Below are some effective tips for managing physician burnout.
Create a balanced schedule
Burnout happens when a person feels exhausted and drained for a long time. The management can avoid this by creating more flexible scheduling policies that won’t force physicians to work for long hours. The American Medical Association also suggests using a time-banking system in hospitals, giving incentives or rewards to practitioners when they go beyond their shifts. Physicians may also take the initiative to discuss and negotiate a schedule tailored to their needs, availability, and preferences. However, some hospital admins may not be open to such negotiation. In this case, you might want to consider changing workplace. Talking to a physician recruiter may help you find the right job and work environment.
Reduce technological burden
An American Association for Physicians Leadership survey showed that clerical and complicated technological tasks are burdensome for most physicians. As a result, doctors spend more time trying to catch up on paperwork rather than spending time with face-to-face consultations with patients. To put it in perspective, a regular physician spends over 60 hours per week keeping up with clerical tasks. In addition, they also find it frustrating to learn and relearn systems. However, admins insist that clerical works and records are also essential, so removing them is impossible. Instead, providing comprehensive training and using simple systems can help mitigate technological burdens. Some hospitals also took the initiative to hire scribes to help doctors in charting.
Provide individual intervention
Hospital admins can help physicians by implementing doctor-friendly policies, changing schedules, and improving the work environment. These are done at an organizational level that can significantly reduce physician burnout. However, individual interventions are also needed to accommodate the needs of everyone on a more personal level. For example, physicians should be encouraged to attend peer-support programs, team meetings, and self-care training. Moreover, psychological support and counseling should also be provided to physicians who witnessed or experienced something traumatic while doing their job.
Physicians are also advised to take some time off from work. A day of relaxation can help refresh and refuel a person’s mind and energy.
Being a physician is not an easy task. Sometimes, the job affects a person’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Following the tips mentioned above will help you manage stress and burnout.