Social Commentary

How Physicians Can Prevent Burnout

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Given the increased demand for healthcare workers during the global pandemic, stress and burnout have become extremely common among physicians.

A 2021 survey by Medical Economics revealed that 80% of physicians currently feel burned out from their jobs.

On average, physicians rate their level of burnout 6.8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) and blame poor work-life balance and overregulation as primary causes. Many have even considered leaving the medical field due to stress.

On an administrative level, physicians say that the best way to prevent burnout is to provide more autonomy, increase compensation, and limit unnecessary regulations.

However, there are still ways physicians can take control of their stress on a personal level. The following strategies can help physicians mitigate the burnout they experience.

Set Workload Limits

A poor work-life balance is one of the most commonly cited reasons for physician burnout.

Many physicians are not provided the autonomy they need to choose work schedules that align with their needs and obligations. Fortunately, healthcare companies are working to address this problem.

The provider-oriented telehealth solution Wheel created a portal that can connect MDs and DOs to virtual care partners. When physicians enroll in Wheel’s telehealth network, Wheel will match them with employers that suit their expertise and schedules.

Wheel also takes care of their contracts and credentialing processes, which can make working with multiple employers easier. Through Wheel, physicians can create a work schedule they can manage.

Create Clear Boundaries

Healthcare workers have been in extremely high demand these past few years. Since the job involves taking care of patient health, feelings of guilt can make it difficult to deny other people’s requests. Many physicians might end up taking additional work to satisfy their sense of obligation.

However, burned-out healthcare workers might have a hard time providing quality care. It is therefore important for physicians to lessen their emotional attachment to their work. As Jordan Brown explains in his blog post about setting boundaries at work, it can help to abandon the ego.

People that cling to their egos tend to believe that they need to do excellent work all the time, which makes saying no difficult. But when people acknowledge and accept their limits, they will be less likely to feel drained.

Use A Meditation App

Meditation and mindfulness exercises train a person’s awareness of their thoughts, feelings, bodies, and surroundings.

Physicians can practice mindfulness to have a deeper understanding of their consciousness, which can allow them to have greater control over their mental processes. A common benefit of meditation is the ability to better manage negative feelings, such as stress.

Many meditation apps have been developed to make it easier for people to learn the practice. The popular meditation app Headspace, for example, uses calming voiceovers and animations to teach users how to meditate.

The app provides meditation guides for a variety of different purposes, including stress relief, grief, and fear. Other options include Insight Timer, Shine, and the Healthy Minds Program.

Create A Journaling Routine

Another way to become more conscious of thoughts and feelings is to journal regularly.

Journaling allows people to put their thoughts to paper. Verywell Mind’s overview of journaling notes that writing journals to process experience can help counteract the negative effects of stress.

Exploring the self through journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and identify major stressors, which can help them better brainstorm solutions.

The healthcare industry produces some of the most stressed professionals out there. Fortunately, there are many ways physicians can take control of their mental health.

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