Practicing medicine is one of the most mentally and emotionally exhausting jobs out there. Physicians of all types dedicate so much of their time and energy to their patients, they often neglect their own needs and feelings. After years of working in healthcare, the daily stresses of their work can really start to weigh providers down.
While jobs in the medical field are always strenuous and stressful, last year proved just how hard healthcare providers and professionals work to keep their communities healthy and safe. Physicians are bound to face some level of burnout after years of selfless service.
If you’re working in the medical field and you’re starting to feel a little worn out, you’ll need to learn how to balance your own needs with the demands of your job. For tips and suggestions on how to identify and manage signs of burnout, keep reading.
What is burnout?
Burnout can come in many forms, but most people use the Maslach Burnout Inventory to define its most common features. Medical professionals often experience these issues:
• Emotional Exhaustion. This feature measures the feeling of being emotionally drained or overextended by your work’s responsibilities.
• Depersonalization. This issue often presents as an overly negative or cynical outlook toward patients.
• Personal Accomplishment. When medical professionals struggle with personal accomplishment, they may doubt their own competence and lack a sense of achievement.
Any combination of these problems could lead to feeling dissatisfied with your job, but there are even more worrisome effects. A burnt-out physician may choose to leave the profession altogether or, worse, the quality of their patients’ care could sharply decline. In either case, it’s important to recognize and treat signs of burnout for the sake of the medical professional and for their patients.
How can you recognize the signs?
If you or someone you know is starting to feel out of touch with work, be on the lookout for some of these signs of burnout:
• Fatigue. This one can be difficult to detect due to the long and difficult shifts that medical professionals work–even the most satisfied medical professionals get physically worn out from time to time. But chronic fatigue that lasts for days or weeks could be due to emotional exhaustion rather than physical strain, so be mindful of noting those differences.
• Pessimism. When medical professionals start viewing their work from a more negative or pessimistic perspective, they may be experiencing the depersonalization stage of burnout.
• Forgetfulness. When you’re feeling disconnected and downtrodden, you’ll start to miss important details and lose sharpness. This is really dangerous in the field of medicine, as even small mistakes can have major effects on patients.
• Poor Performance. When these signs start piling up, a physician’s overall performance will start to decline. This is the stage at which the effects of burnout start hurting other people–namely patients and coworkers–rather than just the affected physician’s mental health.
While everyone makes mistakes during hard times at work, you’ll start to notice when these signs start taking over and affecting your performance. Before anyone gets hurt, it’s important to get help.
What can you do to correct or prevent burnout?
If you’re experiencing any of these signs of burnout, it may be time to make some changes and ensure that you and your patients stay happy and healthy. Whether you need a change of scenery, a refresher on your skills, or a well-deserved break, there are ways to combat workplace stress before it affects your mental health or job performance.
If you love your job but you’re feeling dissatisfied, you may want to look for a new position at a different hospital or practice. Sometimes all you need is a change of pace to get back on track. Alternatively, you could sign up for extra training to gain some more confidence in your skills and methods before returning to work.
Otherwise, you may simply need a break from work altogether. Physicians work hard year-round and rarely take time for themselves, so listen to your mind and body and take a break when you’re feeling worn out. Take a vacation with your family or simply relax at home before returning to the workplace feeling renewed!
If you’re experiencing signs of burnout, it isn’t too late to address your feelings and get back into the swing of things. Use these tips to recognize when you’re getting lost in your job and pull yourself back out again!