3 Symptoms of Physician Burnout

Everyone who works hard to achieve personal and professional fulfillment is susceptible to burnout. Physicians are not exempt from falling prey to this phenomenon and are possibly at higher risk. An article published in Family Practice Management points out three symptoms of physician burnout that you may be experiencing right now.

1. You feel tired all the time

The exhaustion that burned out physicians experience is not simply limited to the physical body. Burnout-related fatigue is the culmination of an individual’s depleted physical, emotional and spiritual energy accounts.

The amount of work waiting at your desk makes you feel spent even though you are just about to clock in. It does not matter whether or not you have rested the night before or have taken leave for a couple of days because there is always more work to do.

As you take in a new patient for the day, you already anticipate the additional one or two hours you will need to dedicate to paperwork after clinic hours.

This everyday cycle of hustling to play catch-up with sparse periods of rest eventually leads to a constant feeling of weariness that worsens over time.

2. You are hardly connected to your patients and staff

Burned-out physicians feel distant from the people they serve and from their colleagues. They have lower emotional availability and spend their energy in carrying out their primary job functions instead.

How many times have you caught yourself rattling prescriptions and diagnoses without pausing to check if your patient understands? You may be facing your electronic medical records as they tell you where they ache. You simply do not have time to spare for a more personal patient encounter before another ailing individual comes in for their scheduled appointment.

Recall the last time you took up your staff’s invitation for a lunch out or the last time you paused to clap them on the back for a job well done on an especially hectic day.

Depersonalization from your patients and your staff is no surprise, given everything else that you have to take care of to keep your practice running. After all, it is impossible to make yourself available for someone else when you have wrung yourself dry.

3. You lack a sense of purpose and effectiveness

Health professionals undergo many years of training to become experts at patient care, coming from the desire to better patient lives and their own.

However, burnout makes it difficult to accomplish all kinds of tasks that come with your practice, much less make their connection to the purpose you started out with.

You find yourself complaining about the most mundane of to-dos more frequently. You often ask yourself why you are forced to take care of them, all the while thinking that your job has lost its purpose. Not to mention the constant cloud of doubt about the quality of work you put out, which derails your daily progress.

Physician burnout is an epidemic that has risen in prevalence in recent years due to changes within the healthcare system. According to a Harvard Health blog, increased insurance-related requirements and paperwork and the imposed use of electronic means of documentation are two of the more pressing pains of burned out physicians today. They can be addressed, but not everyone is aware of the technologies available for use.

When you find yourself seeking reasons to keep going when everything you did as a physician used to make sense, then you need to step back and evaluate yourself and the way you approach your practice. For all you know, your burnout is another case of oversight on effective systems and processes.

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