Physician burnout is an epidemic prevailing today in the medical profession. A study shows that on an average 1 in 3 US doctors at any given time suffer from physician burnout. Recent survey in the US shows that physician burnout rates are higher than 50%. These revelations demonstrate that doctors are facing extreme work pressures which is leading to burnout.
Now, let's look at the causes, effects and remedies of physician burnout.
Causes of burnout
Some of the important factors causing burnout are:
- long working hours
- demanding patients
- new technology adoptions
- increased bureaucratic tasks
- work-life balance challenges
- increasing computerization and documentation of clinical practice,
- insufficient income
Effects of burnout
Burned-out doctors are emotionally and physically drained and this condition has a negative impact on the healthcare services they provide.
Burned-out physicians may:
- lose enthusiasm for work
- provide low-quality patient care
- cause medical errors
- develop low sense of personal accomplishment
- experience disturbed appetite and sleep
- develop alcohol or substance dependence
- have impaired relationships
- suffer from increasing irritability
- experience more interpersonal conflicts at work or at home
By looking at the disturbing effects of burnout, it is necessary to manage the physician burnout at the earliest, and that too at the preventive stage itself. Physicians should develop an effective method for combating excess stress and burnout.
Remedies for preventing burnout
Here are some of the remedies for preventing physician burnout.
Engage in exercise or similar revitalizing activities:
Physical exercise helps in reducing stress and improving emotional well-being. Make a daily workout regimen and adhere to it. Other activities such as yoga, mindful awareness training/mindfulness meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, acupuncture or massage therapy have proved effective in preventing and relieving burnout.
Spend quality time with family and friends:
Establish emotional connections with your loved ones and friends. During burnout, instead of withdrawing yourself from others, spend quality time with your family and friends. Schedule a get-together or plan a quick visit to your family or friend's place.
Find and pursue your hobbies:
If you feel burned-out, try pursuing your favorite hobbies. Get engaged in activities you feel passionate about - such as sports, music, gardening, and cycling. Even your favorite TV show, movie or a music concert can help in unwinding yourself. This will help you manage stress and prevent burnout.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle:
- get at least six hours of sleep per night
- respect the work-life balance
- turn off cell phones at dinner
- take relaxation
- get organized and plan your day in advance
- unwind and recharge mentally
- do not set unrealistic expectations
Medical institutions should:
- provide healthy workplaces
- provide forums to discuss openly about their feelings or job
- provide training for peer support
- provide a stress-free environment
For the betterment of physicians, medical institutions should plan and extend their support. Some hospitals are taking positive steps to help physicians in reducing burnout. We all should understand the fact that you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.