The Top 10 Ways to Combat Physician Burnout

Physician Fighting Burnout
DoctorCPR.com Outlines 10 Ways to Combat Physician Burnout

1. Take at Least 2 Vacations a Year: Doctors who don’t take vacations, BURN OUT. It is very important to leave your current environment and see the rest of the world. It doesn’t really matter where you go. Going to relaxing paradises will keep you rejuvenated both physically and mentally. Going to underdeveloped, third world countries with poor living conditions can make you appreciate all the comforts of your current living conditions and lifestyle.

2. Choose a supportive partner or spouse: Marry someone who really respects you for choosing a medical job. Your partner needs to be someone who won’t make you feel awful for seeing patients after hours or missing important events for patient care emergencies.

3. Go Cash Only: If you are busy enough, give your patients the bill for what you feel you deserve. The patients pay you upfront and they can submit the bill on their own to their insurance company. You don’t have to waste precious time sending people to collections agencies, hounding down patients, and fighting with insurance companies. You can finally stave off any life sucking feelings of getting paid less than what you deserve.

4. Do what you love: If you don’t like a certain procedure which all the specialists do in your field, just don’t do it. If you don’t want to see patients any more, stop seeing patients and do consulting. If you hate administrative medicine, find a way to see patients. If you like plastic surgery, but you also like ENT, you can combine the two specialities and focus on rhinoplasties. There are a thousand ways to make your passion fit with your medical job. The key is to follow your gut and create a niche in medicine that suits your personality, challenges you, and satisfies your interests as much as possible. Don’t copy others. Carve your own unique path in medicine and you will avoid burnout.

5. Don’t work for or with people you hate: If you can, work for yourself. If you work for someone else, chances are that if you stick around long enough, you will be forced to work with someone you hate. Chances are that you will also be forced to do something you really dislike. Stop putting up with other people’s crap. Stop going to work knowing that your career–and everything you worked so hard for– is in someone else’s hands. Do whatever you can to set up your own shop, on your own terms, and you will be much happier in the long run.

6. Talk to your colleagues: This is a burnout solution that many physicians don’t consider. You may avoid having meals with your colleagues, going to pharmaceutical dinners, or attending professional meetings with your colleagues, as you may perceive these events as a waste of time or as painful nights of listening to other doctors brag and boast. However, more often than not, these meetings highlight your colleagues’ complications, struggles, and mistakes. Frequently, your colleagues want to open up about all the messes they are in with hospitals, troublesome patients, complicated cases, and all the difficulties they are experiencing in their lives. This can only help you put all your tough life struggles in perspective because they are good reminders that the physicians around you have just as many problems—IF NOT MORE. You will see that physicians who are “at the top of their field” face lawsuits and medical or surgical complications as much, if not more, than you.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff, including malpractice cases: The interesting thing about medical jobs is that what seems like a terrible disaster in your practice now will seem like a small obstacle in a couple years. In a decade, it will seem like a small nuisance. At the end of your life, you will laugh at it and wish you had taken on even more risks and challenges. Unfortunately, lawsuits will happen. There will be ungrateful patients. There will be backstabbing, overly competitive colleagues. There will be major medical complications. There will be patients who die too young. There will be patients who cannot get better with the best medical technology has to offer. There will be billing problems. You will have health problems interfering with your work. You will have employees who drive you mad. You will be taken advantage of by employers, patients, or employees….the list goes on. Learn to take these obstacles in stride. Every single physician experiences problems and challenges. If you let these challenges overtake you, you will definitely burn out. Focus on what matters: 1) The precious time you have with your loved ones 2) Your own health 3) The joy of helping others. When you are on your death bed, you will not be wishing that you spent an extra two weeks crying about the employee who stole your holiday gift.

8. You must have hobbies: You must have a life outside of medicine. You must go to movies, play sports, play a musical instrument, go to the theater, go skiing….whatever it is that you truly enjoy that is 360 degrees apart from your work. This not only keeps you balanced, but it is a practice builder. Patients identify with physicians who have outside interests and bond with physicians who share these interests with them. If your whole existence is consumed by your medical career, you will not be able to enjoy your life and you will burn out as problems arise in your job.

9. Delegate! Delegate! Delegate! Most physicians are type A personalities and like to control everything. However, you have to let other people do some of the work for your medical job or you will be miserable. The happiest physicians have hired assistants to help them work up patients, office managers to help them organize their practice, and staff members who can call patients with lab results, refill patient medications, and make their jobs much less time consuming. Some doctors even have staff members who write their patient notes and their patients’ prescriptions for them. Don’t be afraid to let go of some responsibilities to others. It may take hiring and firing employees a couple times to find the right person for these jobs, but it is well worth it in the long run and for your mental health to have the extra help.

10. Learn the Art of Saying “No”: Many physicians forget about this basic ingredient for avoiding burnout. You must learn to say “no” and not feel guilty about it to keep your sanity. If you get a call from a referring doctor to see a patient on your vacation, just say “no.” If you have a crazy, overly demanding, patient who wants you to do a procedure on him—learn to say “no” to that patient. If you have a patient that keeps trying to negotiate the cost of his/her visits with you, just say “no”. If you have a family event you are invited to and you were on call the night before, just say “no”. The more you say “yes,” the more people will expect you to say “yes” and they will keep demanding more from you. Learn the art of saying “no” tactfully and politely and you will be a very happy and relaxed physician.

DoctorCPR Physician Group

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