Medscape published their 2015 Physician Lifestyle Report.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here are the numbers:
- 46% of physicians reported that they are feeling burned out.
- Burnout is defined as loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishments.
- Front line care physicians who work in critical care, emergency medicine and family medicine experienced the highest levels of burnout (and the numbers were between 50-53%).
- Physicians who work in pathology, psychiatry and dermatology reported the lowest burnout level around 37-39%.
- The biggest stressors mentioned are too many bureaucratic tasks with a score of 4.74 out of 5, spending too many hours at work with a score of 3.99 and income not high enough at 3.71.
- The burnout rate among female physicians is higher with 51% than the burnout rate of male physicians which was measured at 43%.
- Physicians between 36 and 55 years of age experience the highest level of burnout.
Unfortunately, according to their studies, the burnout rate went up by 6% within the last couple of years and healthcare organizations don’t do enough yet to reduce burnout rates. And so as it is with everything in life – don’t wait for your hospital or physician group to come up with ideas to reduce burn out but be proactive today and do something for yourself so that you won’t become the statistic that I just described for you or that you get out of it as quickly as possible. So here is what I want you to do:
1. Ask yourself how satisfied are you with your life and practice? And yes I want you to assess your level of satisfaction and not your level of stress. Because here is the thing, diminished life or work satisfaction leads to more stress, leads to burnout.
2. Write down your biggest stressors. Write down all the things that stress you out, frustrate you, or annoy you. People, situation, environment, tasks etc. Once you have your list – work it down. To learn more about how to work down your list and control stress, watch my video series “7 tips to get you on the path of ease, balance and greater performance” Go to http://balancedphysician.com to sign up.
3. Take at least 10 minutes each day for yourself. What you do with it is up to you as long as it gives you pleasure, peace, or whatever else you want to experience. Put it in the calendar. Just make it a daily routine. Maybe stop on your way home from work at a park or in a quiet coffee shop and sit there for 10 minutes, or schedule a massage, or just go for a walk. But do something that gives you pleasure and where you feel you do something for yourself. If you say, that you don’t have 10 minutes, then you really don’t have a life. And you always have 10 minutes, the question is what do you do with it. If you make it a priority to spend it on yourself, you will make the time. And once you get more comfortable making 10 minutes time for yourself, eventually you will feel more powerful over the remaining 1430 minutes of your day.
4. Get outside support to help you either get out of burn out or stay out of burnout. Here is the thing. When you run yourself in the ditch, many times it is hard to get yourself out of it all by yourself. And knowing what you need to do in order to reduce stress and avoid burnout doesn’t necessarily mean doing it. Having accountability, having a sounding board to strategize ideas and get ideas from, and putting the situation in a new perspective with a different set of eyes allows you to get the breakthrough and the results you want with minimal setbacks.
So please remember, burnout and high levels of stress are an option and not side-product of being a physician. Nipping burnout and stress in the butt will improve your patient care and your overall satisfaction of your career and life – so get in action now!