Medical institutions should play a role in reducing burnout, according to Dr. Linzer and co-authors in their report, “10 Bold Steps to Prevent Burnout in General Medicine.”4 This can include the use of clinician satisfaction and well-being quality indicators, incorporating mindfulness and teamwork into practice, and decreasing the stress from EMRs. For example, a study at Mayo Clinic with 74 physicians who attended paid biweekly facilitated discussion groups to incorporate mindfulness, reflection, shared experience and small-group learning found some improvement among participants.5 They felt more engaged with their work and less depersonalization.
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“Some hospitals have developed novel strategies to help with the recognition of burnout and to provide doctors with tools to handle it. However, I would argue that many healthcare systems do a poor job in this regard,” Dr. Ardoin says.
Work conditions can also make a difference, Dr. Linzer says. Even with today’s increased administrative pressures, he says that burnout research encourages physicians to spend at least 10% of their time at work doing what they feel most passionate about—this could be teaching, patient care or something else. Without that outlet, burnout is likely to increase, he says.
Good ancillary staff can also help support clinicians so they don’t feel overwhelmed, Dr. Kaplan says.
Making self-care and outside interests a priority is also crucial.
“I do my best to carve out time for stress relievers: sleep, exercise, family and hobbies. I can’t say that I’m always successful,” Dr. Ardoin says.
“Time away from work with vacations can be rejuvenating and allows me to return to work ready to start again. Without steps to ensure a balanced life, I would not be as satisfied in my profession,” Dr. Rubenstein says.
Finally, always keep in mind how what you are doing helps patients, Dr. Kaplan advises. “Rheumatology is rewarding. We treat chronic diseases and now, even if we can’t cure people, we can alter their quality of life. It may be a struggle sometimes, but I feel we’re doing something useful,” he says.
Vanessa Caceres is a freelance medical writer in Bradenton, Fla.
Consequences of Burnout
So what happens if you ignore job burnout? You put your health on the line. The Mayo Clinic describes the following possible consequences:6
- Excessive stress;
- A negative spillover into personal relationships or home life;
- Alcohol or substance abuse;
- Heart disease;
- High cholesterol;
- Type 2 diabetes, especially in women;
- Obesity; and/or
- Vulnerability to illnesses.
- Shanafelt TD, Boone S, Tan L, et al. Burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance among US physicians relative to the general U.S. population. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(18):1377–1385.
- Babbott S, Manwell LB, Brown R, et al. Electronic medical records and physician stress in primary care: Results from the MEMO study. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014;21(e1):e100–e106.
- Dyrbyre LN, Varkey P, Boone SL, et al. Physician satisfaction and burnout at different career stages. Mayo Clin Proc. 2013;88(12):1358–1367.
- Linzer M, Levine R, Meltzer D, et al. 10 bold steps to prevent burnout in general internal medicine. J Gen Intern Med. 2014;29(1):18–20.
- West CP, Dyrbye LN, Rabatin JT, et al. Intervention to promote physician well-being, job satisfaction, and professionalism: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):527–533.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Job Burnout: How to spot it and take action. Mayo Clinic Healthy Lifestyle: Adult Health. Dec. 8, 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642.
- Gerry LM. 10 signs you’re burning out—and what to do about it. Forbes. April 1, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/01/10-signs-youre-burning-out-and-what-to-do-about-it.
- Bourg Carter S. 3 uncommon strategies to manage stress. Psychology Today. Oct. 30, 2012. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201210/3-uncommon-strategies-manage-stress.