What You Can Do if You're Experiencing Burnout

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Every day is a bad day.

  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.

  • You’re exhausted all the time.

  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.

  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

(adapted from helpguide.org)


If you responded, “Hey! How did you get inside of my head?” then you might be experiencing symptoms of burnout.


Symptoms of burnout fall into 3 domains: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of low personal achievement. You might notice that you aren’t able to connect with patients or feel detached from their care. Maybe you feel like you can never get enough rest and just the thought of going into clinic drains all your energy.


Not only are you part of a growing community of physicians struggling with burnout, but the pandemic has only made things worse for a lot of us. In its most recent survey on burnout in physicians, Medscape found that 42% of physicians are experiencing burnout. If you’re experiencing burnout, chances are that many of your colleagues are struggling too.


The most common reasons that physicians report burnout are poor work environments, long shifts, stressful on-call duties, lack of appreciation, loss of autonomy, and inefficient work processes including EMR. Physicians are experiencing a loss of control and validation of their hard work and contribution.


Physicians experiencing burnout are more likely to struggle with depression, substance use disorders and experience suicidal ideation. Burnout also impacts patient care with more errors and lower patient satisfaction scores.


Burnout can also affect your relationships inside and outside of work. Are you noticing more conflicts with peers and staff? Burnout is bad for you and it’s bad for those around you.


What can I do if I'm experiencing burnout?


If you’ve found yourself feeling tired, ineffective, and disconnected from patient care, then you’re probably experiencing burnout. So, what do you do now?


The first step in managing your burnout is in recognizing it. Once you recognize it, you can begin building your plan.


Your personal plan for managing your burnout is important, but your organization’s attention to burnout management is just as important. Mindfulness practices and exercise are great but placing the entire burden of managing burnout on you is unfair and won’t solve the problem.


Organizations are often the source of burnout, so their attention to the problem is a big deal. Organizations have several options for supporting burnout management and burnout prevention. They can optimize teamwork, allow for flexible scheduling or reduced work hours, increase efficiency in work processes, and provide opportunities for learning and support about stress management in group and individual settings. More recent studies have shown that coaching can be a powerful intervention for managing burnout.


Check and see if you have an organization that’s committed to burnout management/prevention. If so, what you can take advantage of?


If your organization doesn’t have a formal burnout or wellness program in place, identify a safe member of your leadership team that you can talk to about what you need. You might be able to request reduced work hours, more administrative support or even coaching.


There are also personal changes that you can make to manage your burnout. Figuring that out might mean taking a little time to reflect on which areas have been affected most.


Has self-care fallen to the bottom of your priority list? Then you might start by looking at how much sleep and exercise you’re getting.


If you’re noticing that you’re constantly getting into conflicts with others, you might need to consider changes that will help you experience important relationships more positively.


Consider talking to someone to sort out the source and impact of your burnout. Who in your immediate network is a trusted source of support? A colleague, friend, or family member?


If your burnout feels severe enough, you might want to work with a coach or seek counseling. Seeing a mental health professional is especially important if you’re struggling with depression, substance use or suicidal ideation.


Don’t suffer with burnout a moment longer. Take a look at your resources, both internal and external, and start building your plan for managing burnout. You just might inspire someone into action and help to turn your work environment around.


I'm ready if you are. Let's tackle your burnout together. Schedule a free discovery call with me here.