Burnout is not a new issue impacting the healthcare community, but it is getting worse. A recent Medscape report found that physician burnout jumped from 40% back in 2013 to 51% in 2017. Three out of four doctors say work stress prevents them from getting enough sleep, more than half are overweight or obese by reported BMI (Body Mass Index) and 41% have considered quitting.
Today’s post explores why we need to pay attention to physician burnout, tips to avoid it and how locum tenens could be the answer.
What is Burnout?
By name, burnout is easy to grasp as a concept—a physician has worked too hard, too long or both, and they’ve reached the end of their rope. The uncomfortable truth is physicians can experience depression-like symptoms of burnout early in their careers or while they’re still in school, and there are many different contributing factors, from too many bureaucratic tasks, to staggering debt to difficult patients and colleagues.
The scariest part about burnout is that it doesn’t just cause doctors to want to quit their jobs. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among medical students, and the leading cause among male residents.
Burnout Impacts Patients, Too
Physicians and their families aren’t the only ones affected by burnout. Patients are negatively impacted everyday by burned-out doctors’ lack of time, bedside manner and more:
- Almost 90% of doctors can’t keep up with new studies and advances being released, meaning patients could be missing out on the most advanced care possible.
- 83% can’t spend as much time with patients as they’d like.
- More than half report writing prescriptions or referring patients to specialists because of time constraints.
Burnout is a common problem that should not be kept in the dark but discussed openly and addressed proactively. The answers lie in education as early as pre-med, programs within the hospitals and medical facilities where physicians work, and dedication to self-care. They say doctors make the worst patients, but self-care must be a priority in order to curb burnout.
5 Tips to Fight Burnout
Small measures, when formed into a habit, can often be what you need to keep burnout at bay:
- Designate “you” time for relaxation, pursuing a hobby or interest, spending time with family, etc.
- Commit to getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Turn off devices at the end of each day, especially right before bed.
- Make time for regular physical activity.
- Consider your career options.
For physicians who need to take a break, re-collect and evaluate what they want from their career, locum tenens can provide the ideal solution. Working locum tenens can offer greater flexibility, more work-life balance and the ability to get back to practicing medicine that’s focused on your patients. And working with a professional locum tenens staffing agency like VISTA can make it easy to get started.