Burnout is defined as physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged stress in the workplace. Medical professionals give so much of themselves to patients in the course of each day, and it can be difficult to find the right balance between taking care of others and taking care of oneself. Management at healthcare facilities should prioritize helping to prevent burnout to keep medical staff safe, happy, and able to help others.
Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout manifests itself in many different ways, ways that are unique to the individual, though symptoms are usually a combination of mental, emotional, and physical signs. Common indications include irritability or cynicism, hypersensitivity or a complete lack of sensitivity, hopelessness, worry, feelings of depersonalization or isolation, and withdrawing from family and friends.
These are often accompanied by more physical manifestations such as inconsolable physical and emotional fatigue, trouble sleeping, changes in eating patterns, stomach problems or pain, headaches, recurrent illness, and increased alcohol or drug use. Employees should acknowledge these symptoms and seek help, and employers should keep a wary eye out for the warning signs before burnout becomes unmanageable.
Taking Steps to Prevent Burnout
With the ever-increasing speed of our society, mental, and emotional burnout is becoming an ever-increasing problem. Especially with the recent pandemic, over half of medical personnel have felt burnt out in the last two years. While all jobs have the potential to cause burnout, the work of healthcare employees has mental and emotional dividends that often surpass those of the typical 9–5. The pandemic increased the percentage of young medical professionals who had patients in their care die to 13%, nearly one in eight.
This and the other rigorous and intensive labors performed by medical staff should indicate that measures need to be in place to prevent burnout among them. People only have so much in them, and they need to be given an opportunity to rest in healthy ways before burnout can have permanent effects. It is critical that a clinic’s focus on providing patient care not overlook caring for their own employees.
Medical professionals should start close to home if they want to prevent burnout in themselves. A nutritious diet and a good sleep routine are key to maintaining adequate health and strength to manage the demands of the workplace. Consider a half an hour of exercise daily to keep your body strong and full of energy.
Whole Body and Soul
Meditation and breathing exercises can do wonders to reduce stress and prevent burnout before it begins. Some find that yoga helps them to leave work at the hospital or clinic and not bring it home with them. Really allow the mind to focus on engaging in stillness and calm.
Take a Step Back
Though vacation time can be difficult to set when working in a medical profession, doing so is vital. People in such high-stress occupations especially need time to rest and revitalize. Employers should be conscientious and allow staff to take time off before burnout hits in force.
If a workload or schedule is overwhelming, employer and employee should negotiate different options to mitigate the overload. This may mean working fewer hours or the reshuffling of tasks. Though this can be initially uncomfortable, it is far better than the alternative. If restructuring billing management can help prevent burnout in staff who are trying to cover it and patient care, reach out to us at Aspen Ridge Medical.
Do Not Isolate
While it can be tempting after a long work week to curl up on the couch and put the phone on airplane mode, doing so is not always a healthy choice. Taking space for oneself can certainly help prevent burnout, but also take time to connect with family and friends. This can help mitigate feelings of isolation.
A Professional Eye
Medical professionals do not have to manage feelings of burnout on their own. It is important to keep appointments with one’s GP to maintain good physical health. Seek professional support to maintain mental health and to process fatigued or helpless thoughts and feelings.
Protect Mental and Physical Health
While burnout is a common struggle, it does not have to define one’s life or even one’s job experience. Just like any other medical concern, if you can catch it early on, it is possible to prevent burnout. A healthcare facility’s staff is its most precious resource, and it is crucial to take care of our own. Make preventing employee burnout a priority at your clinic or hospital.