Being a physician isn’t an easy job. Physicians handle an unbelievable amount of work-related stress since they need to ensure patient care, adopt new technology, and stay on top of administrative tasks.
Moreover, the ongoing pandemic has further added to the already high stress levels that medical professionals are facing globally. While the majority of healthcare workers have always had to carry this burden, little attention is given to the concerns of physicians, especially since they’re often perceived as strong and resilient.
Additionally, patients these days need an increase in frontline care. That said, it’s not surprising why many doctors are dealing with physician burnout.
Do you want to learn more about the phenomenon of physician burnout? Keep on reading to know more.
Physician Burnout: How It Affects One’s Personal Life
Physician burnout is categorized as a psychological syndrome. It can be expressed as an extended response because of severe occupational stressors. In the medical field, this burnout has been known to affect a variety of people from medical students to working physicians. However, its impact often reaches beyond that.
Clearly, physician burnout can significantly affect both the institution and the patients. Worse still, the physicians’ personal lives can be disregarded. The anxiety and depression that doctors may be dealing with because of physician burnout in the workplace can severely impact the intimate parts of their lives.
One factor that’s greatly affected by burnout is the quality of sleep. If a physician has poor sleep quality, it’ll result in low energy levels, thus adding stress inside and outside of work.
According to research, sleep deprivation may negatively affect math and language skills, increase the needed time to perform surgical procedures, weaken ECG interpretation, generate less empathy for the patients, and increase the error rates in the intensive care unit (ICU).
The personality of the physician can also be affected when they experience burnout. After dealing with a stressful situation and long and tiring working hours, you may be susceptible to irritability, sensitivity, and anxiousness. Undoubtedly, these effects may influence your professional and personal relationships negatively.
Burnout may also affect the physician’s dietary habits. A stressed-out physician tends to eat quick and unhealthy options. Aside from having limited time to prepare healthy meals, these poor dietary choices are due to the physician’s susceptibility to emotional eating. Remember, a poor eating habit may lead to depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
Symptoms Of Physician Burnout
Recognizing the symptoms of physician burnout is very important not only for the sake of the person but those around them as well. Burnout may manifest in different ways, and these are the universal signs to look out for:
- Emotional detachment
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling defeated. helpless, or trapped
- Isolating from other people
- Poor immunity
- Negative outlook
- Feeling drained and tired most of the time
- Decrease satisfaction
- Tiredness that doesn’t respond to enough rest
- Withdrawal from duties and responsibilities
Causes Of Physician Burnout
These are some of the different factors that contribute to physician burnout:
The shift in various healthcare organizations and institutions due to technological developments is putting most physicians in awkward positions. That’s because they now need time to learn a new system as well as unfamiliar ways to handle information. Unfortunately, their workloads make it harder to achieve these tasks.
In the health sector, using the satisfaction scores reported by patients is becoming increasingly common. However, a physician can easily get a poor rating for not giving a patient an antibiotic, even though the patient hasn’t ordered any lab tests yet. Also, medical institutions are expecting physicians to navigate a situation wherein a patient is threatening, drug-seeking, and non-compliant.
These days, the practice of medicine is generally volume-driven. The limited time of visits and increasing number of patients have eroded the relationship between patients and physicians. They prevent physicians from giving the kind of care they went to school to learn.
Additionally, an unlikely call schedule may also affect the life quality of the physician since they are obliged to continue working at home. With the arrival of smartphones and electronic medical records (EMR), physicians are now accessible 24/7, which means the workday never ends.
Another cause of physician burnout is the administrative and bureaucratic tasks that take their time away from their core work responsibilities. When physicians are consumed with handling administrative-related paperwork, health insurance companies, and maintaining EMRs, the frustrations they experience can quickly add up. However, physicians would rather use this time to monitor their patients.
How To Prevent Physician Burnout
Physician burnout is a much bigger issue than many people realize. Luckily, there are ways you can do to prevent this from taking place. Here are some effective solutions you should consider:
Spend Time With Friends And Family
When a physician starts to feel burned out, they usually start to isolate themselves by withdrawing from the people around them. However, instead of further distancing themselves, they should reach out to the people they’re closest to. After all, social contact is one of the best remedies for stress, and talking one-on-one with someone you trust may relieve stress and calm the nervous system.
Physicians should always find time to connect with their loved ones and friends regularly. Better yet, they should schedule time with their family so that spending the opportunity to connect with them isn’t left up to chance.
Physicians are aware that exercising regularly has a big effect on improving their emotional well-being and reducing stress. Though it’s impossible to get rid of stress, learning how to manage it is possible. One great way is by doing regular exercise. Acupuncture, engaging in yoga, and massage therapy can help in stress management as well.
Outsource Other Tasks
The growing demand that physicians need to face each day is increasing. Since some patients are expecting higher hospital bills, they end up demanding more from their doctors. Due to these demands, physicians are experiencing work stress and burnout.
To reduce the stress, physicians should outsource some of their administrative tasks. After all, it’s one of the causes of their burnout. By outsourcing these tasks to external organizations, physicians can spend more time with their patients.
Some of the administrative tasks that a physician can outsource include medical transcription and medical billing. When outsourced, the productivity and efficiency of physicians and other staff will surely increase.
Burnout affects almost all physicians worldwide, especially those who are practicing frontline care. If left untreated, physician burnout may result in serious consequences, not only for the physician but also for patients and medical organizations. But with enough knowledge about this problem, physicians and other medical professionals will be better equipped to alleviate and avoid physician burnout.