Dr. Hehemann discusses burnout, work-life balance in urology

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"We've seen that the rate of burnout among women in urology is rising particularly quickly," says Marah C. Hehemann, MD.

In this video, Marah C. Hehemann, MD, highlights key takeaways from the session, “Work Life Balance: Preventing Burnout,” which she presented during the 24th Annual Fall Scientific Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America. Hehemann is an assistant professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.

Video Transcript:

The key takeaways are that burnout continues to afflict us in the medical profession at significant rates, especially in urology. We've seen that the rate of burnout among women in urology is rising particularly quickly. It's something that we all need to address. I also talked in my talk about 2 other factors that contribute to the difficulty and some of the challenges that we face as urologists and medical professionals in general, which are number 1, moral injury, where we're working in spaces where we have less and less resources, and the demand continues to get higher and higher. Number 2 is this concept of the second victim, that we as surgeons can become the second victim if we experience complications or injury to our patients, which promotes things like PTSD, depression, [and] anguish over having caused physical injury to somebody. This all leads to potential for suicidality, depression, like I mentioned, and can lead to quality of life decline for surgeons and for urologists.

Some of the things I talked about with regard to repairing these types of challenges are things like promoting psychological resilience through programs or through reading or cultivating resilience in yourself. Resilience is something that we think about as just being tough. It's not just being able to withstand difficult times, it's really persevering and actually going through tough times even better. That's what resilience means. Things like setting boundaries can help, cultivating your own purpose for being here, remembering why you got into this field to begin with, and what your superpowers are. Things that you do every day that you have fun doing and feel easy should be really where you spend most of your time and your job. For me, that's things like operating and taking care of patients and educating; those are the things that I love to do, and I feel good doing them. We want to focus on the things that are rewarding to us.

Then lastly, of course, work-life balance. There's no such thing as a true balance. We're always going to be teetering on one side or the other. It's rarely ever in complete, harmonious equanimity of time between the 2 things. It's important to know that you're not a failure because one is doing better than the other at a certain point in time. Some of the things that are important for work-life balance are things like first taking care of yourself, putting your oxygen mask on first, making sure you prioritize your wellness through exercise, being outside, and importantly, having a strong support network around you. People that are both in our field, which is so critical for me, people I can talk with about issues with patients or difficult cases or just have fun with who know what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis. And then of course, people who are outside this space like our partners, our family, dogs, things like that. These are all really important facets to help get us through those difficult times.

This transcription has been edited for clarity.

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