Six tips for preventing burnout

Physician burnout is a real problem with real consequences. Here are some steps you can take from preventing it from happening to you.

Physician burnout is a real problem with real consequences. Here are some steps you can take from preventing it from happening to you. 

Seek balance in life

“This includes exercise, eating a healthy diet, avoiding excesses [such as alcohol and substance abuse], and especially seeking connection and support from others,” said psychiatrist Merry Noel Miller, MD. “It is important for doctors not to isolate themselves, but instead to reach out to others and put a priority on taking care of themselves, as well as their patients.”

Become educated about burnout and how to prevent it

“Preventing it requires working in an environment that does not have too much undue external stress and where one has adequate empowerment to be who one is professionally and personally,” said H. Steven Moffic, MD, a psychiatrist.

Students might take a course. Some medical schools are teaching future physicians how to prevent burnout in a course called “The Healer’s Art,” created by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD.

“This course strives to help doctors and students connect to the deep meaning in their work in medicine,” Dr. Miller said.

Next: Pay ongoing attention to your well-being


Pay ongoing attention to your well-being

“Being able to emotionally recoup through adequate time off helps. So does personal meditation, exercise, and ventilation to loved ones, or really any activity that helps one recoup emotionally,” according to Dr. Moffic.

Focus on the good

“Focus on the parts of your day and the parts of medicine that give you satisfaction,” urologist Philip M. Hanno, MD, MPH, said. “I think losing your perspective is one of the biggest issues driving burnout.”

Be in the moment

“I think that being in the moment and not thinking about 100 other things while you’re seeing a patient or while you’re evaluating what you’ve done makes it a much more enjoyable experience,” Dr. Hanno said.

Next: Identify stressors


Identify stressors and control those you can

“You’re going to have difficult clinical situations that sometimes have results that you don’t like. That’s part of the business,” said urologist Steven Wahle, MD.

But physicians can take steps to relieve some of their administrative burdens by delegating this work to staff, hiring more coders, and streamlining electronic medical records software. They can become active on hospital boards and bring to light the issues and need for solutions for their colleagues, according to Dr. Wahle.

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