There is a lot of discussion about what to do about physician burnout.
The conversation includes debates on the actual incidence of burnout, why it varies among specialties and work environments, who is responsible for it and what can be done to combat it.
The suffering of physician burnout can lead talented and dedicated doctors to consider leaving clinical medicine for other career paths.
This may be the right choice for some doctors.
For other doctors who remain passionate about clinical medicine, having skills and strategies to keep burnout at bay at their fingertips, allows these physicians to take back their power.
While the conversation and search for solutions go on, here are five ways that physicians can reclaim their power and positively channel their energy to keep burnout at bay.
1. Honor your gifts and talents
A common theme that arises when working with physician clients is feeling unappreciated and unrecognized for the long hours and commitment you give to your patients and the team.
This leads to stress and frustration.
It is completely natural to want to feel appreciated and hear someone say “good job” after a long shift.
As leaders, physicians are often charged with encouraging others, yet seldom is the sentiment returned.
Learning how to honor your own gifts and talents is life-affirming.
It is not arrogant or boastful when a doctor taps into his or her innate gifts and serves patients from that place.
2. Be comfortable with asking for help
If you want to see real change in your profession, you have to be willing to take that first step.
There’s the perception that doctors are superhuman, have all the answers and don’t need help.
Asking for help is perceived as a sign of weakness, not being competitive enough or not smart enough.
In order for there to be any progress in the medical profession, doctors have to be willing to reject beliefs that are not serving the men and women behind the white coats and stethoscopes.
We are entering the era in medicine where doctors have to take off the masks and allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to ask for help.
Suffering in silence is not the way to honor your gifts and talents.
3. Be open to receiving support
As doctors, you are trained to be the savior for others.
You are the answer to your patients.
You diagnose and fix their problems.
As the saying goes: “doctors make the worst patients.”
You wait until your life and career are in critical condition before you seek a diagnosis and a treatment plan for your life.
When a life plan is presented to you, you resist making the changes needed for relief and having a better experience with medicine.
It is important for doctors to be open to receive the life skills needed to navigate and have a healthy relationship with medicine, rather than have to resuscitate their life and career after burnout has set in.
4. Reframe your thoughts and beliefs about medicine
Many physicians enter into their medical career in their youth.
You are optimistic and enthusiastic about the patients you desire to serve and the impact you make.
This is a good thing.
Along the way, the culture of medicine, the demand to see volumes of patients and the non-medical work that is needed to generate revenue distracts doctors from their higher calling.
This breeds discontent that seeps into every day and every experience.
Reframing your thoughts so that you can see each day as a new beginning invites new opportunities to reveal yourselves, even in the present circumstances.
Adopt a new attitude by asking, “What is possible for me here?”
5. Reconnect to the essence of who you really are
So much of your identity is tied to the MD after your name.
While you wear the MD with pride, it comes with certain expectations that you try to live up to.
After years of living into the title and definition of doctor, reconnecting to who you are can be challenging.
Some doctors are lost without their white coat and stethoscope.
They don’t know who they are.
This is a new journey that is worth the investment.
The beauty of getting back to your core essence is that you allow more ease and flow into your life and release the struggle of unrealistic expectations of medicine.
Now you are tapping into your power and bringing your best self to your life and career.