stresseddocPhysicians work more than most people realize.

In fact, the time they spend helping others through their medical practice often leads to serious imbalances in their own lives.

While it may be impossible to fully alleviate this difficulty, there are some steps that physicians can take to bring more equilibrium to both their jobs and their personal time. Unfortunately, physician burnout is a very common problem that occurs in the medical industry and everyone from novice students to experienced professionals can experience burnout. 

7 Ways Physicians Can Improve Work-Life Balance

Learn to delegate

Although it is tempting to do everything oneself, there is only so much any one person can accomplish. When there are people available that can help accomplish a task, utilize them. There may always be too much to get done, but asking for help can minimize the amount of tasks that go unfinished.

Accept that time is limited

This is a reality that all serious professionals must eventually acknowledge. When working in a field as demanding as that of a physician, some things are going to remain undone. Hobbies and tasks that were possible before may remain permanently in the past, and this is OK. Other tasks and interests can still be visited, it just may take some time for this to happen.

Understand the limitations of time

Time is a finite resource that must be managed effectively. One cannot create more of it, only increase the efficiency with which the existing time is used.

Accept the reality of decision making

Making a decision means deciding on one choice while abandoning another. To compound the difficulty, one rarely has all the information necessary to know which choice is the best until after the dust has settled. This is true in life and especially true in the work of a physician.

Avoid guilt

If a physician is making the decisions that must be made and filling his or her time effectively, feelings of guilt are usually not appropriate. There can be a host of reasons why one feels guilty and not all of them are valid. One cannot change the realities of time and decision making, and should avoid feeling guilty about making the best of a frustrating situation.

Do not be bullied

Physicians can be prime targets for bullying by over demanding patients and staff if they are not careful. When a physician is doing the best with what he or she has, there may be no more room for extra demands of time and effort. It is OK to push back against unfair demands and to work out more realistic solutions.

Avoid excessive self-criticism

Sometimes the worst bully is oneself. Having the drive to push through medical school and into the career of a physician is a special thing, but this same drive can turn inwardly destructive once it meets the limitations and realities of everyday practice. Self-criticism is appropriate in small doses, but if it is coming repeatedly and ignoring the facts listed in the steps above, it should be minimized.

Burnout in the pandemic

The last year has held many trying challenges and has been a rollercoaster for people all across the world, especially medical professionals. The pandemic has essentially changed our way of thinking and therefore a new approach to addressing burnout is important. 

External pressure

Over the last year, the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and the coronavirus itself have been extremely intense. Medical professional struggled to maintain their advanced level of care as resources were scarce and there seemed to be no end in sight to the suffering from the coronavirus. These external sources can create large pressures for medical professionals who are trying to continue patient care during uncertain times. In addition, administrative burden, uneven workflow and staff ratios can add supplemental pressure.

Intense workload

It’s not to say that doctors have an easy job to begin with. But stress and pressure can continue to build up as providers grapple with new medical diagnosis and extreme symptoms from the coronavirus while they balance an increasing workload looking after patients.

Well-being is a value

By prioritizing well-being as a crucial aspect of the practice’s mission and values, staff and doctors know that the practice values work-life balance. Small decisions here and there can aid in lessening the burden and physician burnout. 

 

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Last Updated on April 3, 2021