18 April 2010, by tpotisk
Doctors get professional burnout frequently. They are under more stress and carry more responsibility than ever before. Left uncontrolled, the consequences build logarithmically, causing health problems and then even death, perhaps through suicide, in some instances.
Being a health care provider can and should be very rewarding. But the rewards are deceiving. If one’s focus is on money and other materialism, long term joy will always be lacking. This concept can be applied to almost anything in life, whether you’re talking about marriage, career, business, and even raising children. It comes down to how you define success.
In regards to raising children, read this article I wrote called Stress Management: How do you define success?
But the focus of this article is on doctors, a vital component of society’s well being. We need you docs!
Here is a list of potential signs of burnout:
Can’t wait to get done seeing patients/ watching the clock.
Difficulty fully listening to patients, interrupting them.
Contemplating switching careers.
Viewing patients as problems instead of people with problems.
No sense of humor.
Lack of exercise, tired frequently, low energy
Poor eating habits, craving carbohydrates
This is a partial list of general early indicators. Certainly there can be numerous reasons for any of these problems. But I urge doctors to take action because burnout is dangerous. And besides, a doctor can’t provide optimum care to patients with any of those symptoms. Taking time off is part of the solution, but it’s difficult for doctors because of the demands of patients. (If you have not already done so, register on the sidebar of this website and receive my free report: How to take and enjoy more vacations from practice) .
I wrote an excellent protocol for relaxation, both mentally and physically, that will also help you. You can find it in my book Whole Health Healing.
Here is an excerpt from an article in American Association of Family Physicians, June 1999
“From the first day of medical school onward, you’ve most likely felt behind. Practicing medicine can be like racing through life on a treadmill that’s always picking up speed. Exhausted, many physicians begin to question whether they can keep up the pace. But most feel forced to continue on the treadmill, regardless of the personal toll, because of commitments they’ve made. First they work to pay off medical school loans. Then they work so they can afford the expensive lifestyle they’ve created — sometimes to appease family members for their constant absences. If they don’t want their children to start professional life with the burden of debt, they may keep up a fast pace to help pay for college or professional school.”
A tremendous number of physicians have compassion fatigue; that is, they give to patients to the point where it hurts too much to give any more. Some have alienated their families.”
So that’s the prime reason I wrote the book Reclaim the Joy of Practice – An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors. Joy is the opposite of burnout. The book contains 130 pages of things a doctor needs to do for long term joy as a doctor.
I was blessed with tremendous success in my practice for over 25 years. And joy was a big part of that. We owe it to our patients to pursue joy.
Doctor, how do you define success and do you have joy?
I did it. You’re next!