4.6 min readPublished On: March 31, 2020

The doctor is in… burnout mode

Medical professionals talk about how they cope with their jobs. 

Compiled by: James Combs and Chris Gerbasi

Burnout on the job is not exactly a new concept, but its consequences may carry new significance. Last year, the World Health Organization added burnout to its International Classification of Diseases.

Physicians are not immune, with about 44 percent exhibiting at least one symptom of burnout, according to a 2017 study led by the American Medical Association.

Healthy Living asked doctors and other health-care professionals about burnout in their fields:

Dr. Birendra Bhattarai
Internal Medicine, Aegis Medical Group Lakeview Healthcare System

Have you experienced burnout?
Yes, I have had burnout, especially when working at the hospital and office due to work volume. I normally sleep and stay with family to cope with that and take time off a few days every couple of months. My advice for my colleagues is to slow down, spend time with family and make some personal time to do the things you like. 

Dr. Erik Zimmermann
Owner/podiatrist at Zimmermann Podiatry in Leesburg

What are frequent causes of burnout for you?
Government regulations, paperwork and mandated computer recordkeeping. 

How do you cope?
My go-to stress relievers are exercise, family time, playing with my dogs and listening to music.

Dr. Joshua Olcott
Owner/Chiropractor at Olcott Chiropractic and Wellness Center, Lady Lake

Have you experienced burnout?
Absolutely … especially with the amount of paperwork required by insurance companies.

How do you overcome burnout?
Try to not work or work very little on the weekends so I can be present with my son and friends. Also, running has been a great stress relief and distraction.

Advice for colleagues?
Make time every week to break away. Put your phone away and be unavailable every week so you get those mental breaks.

Dr. Paul E. Collins
Owner/Optometrist at EyeSite of The Villages

Most stressful aspect of your job?
I truly love what I do, but a constant source of headache is online reputation management. People use the internet and social media as a bully pulpit to offer unfounded or unwarranted negative feedback. Sometimes, these reviews are by people who are not even patients or folks that disagree with the choice of insurances I accept and not the quality of care given, yet thousands of people see those reviews and use them to make a decision whether or not to come to my practice. 

How do you deal with it?
My name and reputation are very important to me, so I feel I have to respond to negative reviews in a way that lets people know that I care and that these reviews are, in fact, unfounded. I reply in the most eloquent and cordial way that I can in order to diffuse the situation and let the public know we’re a fair practice that cares.

Dr. Candace Booth
Nutritionist/Herbalist/Spiritual Health Coach, Tavares

Have you experienced burnout?
I work in prevention—I teach people how to focus on wellness in mind, body and spirit, including healthy whole foods and exercise. As a rule, those of us working with these wellness concepts do not experience “burnout,” if you will, because we are teaching people how not to be victims of their circumstance.

Advice for colleagues?
I also practice what I preach. Medical doctors and nurses, that is, ER nurses, have a much greater risk of burnout due to stress, poor diet, lack of sleep and very poor exercise habits. Their jobs are driven more by the insurance industry and Big Pharma—and patients who are often not willing to assume any responsibility for the imbalance in their bodies (disease). Ultimately, if properly fed and cared for, the human body has everything it needs to do most of its own healing.  

Elizabeth Sellers
Practice Administrator of Glover Chiropractic in Leesburg

How is your job stressful?
You are pulled in many different directions daily. Many areas of the office need you all at once—patients, staff, doctors, etc.

Do you ever feel burned out?
I can honestly say there are days I am exhausted and mentally drained, but not “burned out.” I truly love what I do.

How do you relieve stress?
My 15-year-old son and I at the end of each day require each other to list five things we are grateful for that happened that day. This makes me focus and find the positive things that happen throughout my day. I also have a pretty awesome music playlist that I like to blare in the car on my way home, so I can sing my heart out and forget about the stressful day I had. And wine … wine always helps.

Advice for colleagues?
There is always tomorrow. You will never be able to accomplish everything in one day, no matter how many hours you work in a day. Self-care is extremely important. Do something daily/weekly to focus on yourself and give yourself some time to regenerate and refill your tank!

Read the signs

Symptoms of physician burnout include:

• Feeling tired most of the time.

• Drop in libido or impotence.

• Change in appetite or sleep habits.

• Self-doubt and sense of failure.

• Using food, drugs or alcohol to cope. 

• Loss of motivation.

Source: thehappymd.com

What contributes to physician burnout?

In a survey of 15,000 U.S. physicians, they responded:

56Too many bureaucratic tasks like paperwork

39Spending too many hours at work

26Lack of respect from administrators, employers, colleagues or staff

24Increasing computerization of practice

24Insufficient compensation

21Lack of control/autonomy

16Lack of respect from patients

Source: Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2020

About the Author: Akers Editorial


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