Battling burnout: Two doctors stay motivated in a changing industry
Today’s healthcare environment is a game of constant catchup … with packed daily schedules, soaring administrative duties, and healthcare regulations that change month-to-month.
Physicians are feeling exhausted, detached, and disconnected from the value of their work — in other words, they are burned out, which places a heavy strain on an industry already stretched thin.
Find the balance, remember what matters
Dr. Dan Diamond understands first-hand the stress of practicing medicine. He served as director of the medical triage unit at the New Orleans Convention Center following Hurricane Katrina.
A family physician and educator, Dr. Diamond is also a speaker who helps healthcare professionals avoid burnout. He has found that mindset makes a tremendous difference, as does remembering physicians’ “why.” He cited an example of a family physician who uses mindfulness and a team-based approach to his practice. When physicians and staff work from a place of “ownership,” he said, they look for opportunities to help each other deliver better care.
The most effective teams show up with the mindset of service, asking, “What can I do to make the other people on my team successful?” They don’t care who gets the credit, but they make it a point to care, he said.
Dr. Diamond also recalled advice a mentor once shared with him. “Any time you get a thank you note, don’t throw it away,” he said. “A file full of notes like that can remind a physician why he or she went into medicine in the first place.”
Finding a support system
Dr. Robert Ashley is a solo family medicine doctor with more than 40 years of experience in Gainesville, Fla., and he believes “primary care is primary” as he aims to deliver “the very best care.”
In an evolving industry, not much has changed with Dr. Ashely’s patient relationships. “I am more determined than ever to be face-to-face with my patients,” he said.
He gives credit for that stability to the support he gets from his family, staff, and patients, as well as the colleagues he meets in the doctor’s lounge of the hospital where he does rounds. “The support system is extremely important,” Dr. Ashley said.
Taking the first step
Burnout can range from mild frustration to depression that requires treatment, but for many providers, a few basic steps — scaling back daily schedules, finding a support network, and remembering the reason why the work matters — can lead to a refreshed outlook.
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Know the symptoms
Physician burnout remains a serious problem. What are the symptoms? Greenway’s blog on physician burnout describes the signs … and shares steps you can take to avoid that path.
- Emotional exhaustion.
- Reduced personal accomplishment.
Physician burnout by specialty
Emergency medicine: 59%
Family medicine: 55%
Internal medicine: 55%
Infectious disease: 55%
Source: Medscape Lifestyle Report 2017