Physicians are feeling the effects of professional burnout more than ever before. Even with a dedicated team nearby to help them, physicians are still feeling alone. This is caused by a plethora of factors but the most common denominator is the shift in how healthcare works.
The healthcare system has become less personal and more distant, artificial, and covered in red tape and bureaucracy. Doctors aren’t as free to provide holistic care for their patients. Plus, they’re bound by regulations and rules that place an emphasis on profits rather than the patient outcomes.
This results in over 30 million uninsured Americans seeking emergency care for issues that could have been solved through basic primary care. Healthcare disparities and social determinants of health are the main issues at play here. Burnout is very spread out, affecting almost three quarters of physicians in the US and influencing their performance.
This might seem like a hopeless situation but that’s not true. Changes have already been implemented by visionary organizations that want to make a difference in the healthcare industry. Prioritizing patients and preferring outcome-based care, offering a more balanced work-life balance for burnt-out physicians, helping them find fulfillment, these are all necessary changes.
In this article, we’ll present a couple of cases where physicians managed to achieve just that!
Depression, Anxiety, and Burnout
According to ChenMed, around 50-70% of American physicians are experiencing burnout. Depression is running rampant among them because the burnout goes unresolved. Moreover, physicians also have no incentive to talk about their issues and be more open. Most are feeling lonely despite being surrounded by a dedicated team to help them.
However, physicians have recently begun talking about their experience to deal with the burnout symptoms. Even this is an incredible step forward in addressing the healthcare industry’s flaw as a whole. Especially since there’s a stigma attached to health professionals seeking mental health support. Workforce challenges are normally tacitly accepted and kept inside until burnout ensues.
Doctors also have a high suicide rate because the effects of burnout don’t only affect their professional lives. They infiltrate their personal lives and has massive a long-term impact on their physical and psychological health. Experts claim that the simple act of sharing your suffering with someone close will help a great deal in dealing with the burnout symptoms.
A Reframing of Perspective to Deal with Burnout
As weak as this might sound, positivity is key when dealing with burnout. There is a silver lining to almost any situation physicians confront themselves with. To build resilience in the field, doctors need to enforce a positive attitude through word choices and attitudes. Reframe your vocabulary to reflect your attitude and mindset. Instead of saying “provider”, call yourself a “doctor”, or an “encounter” a visit.
This will not only appeal more to patients because you appear more empathetic and “human” but it will also bring you a positive outlook. In one of Dr. Faisel Syed’s podcast episodes for ChenMed, he interviewed Dr. Alison Huffstetler, a family doctor and clinician researcher working for the Virginia Commonwealth Family Medicine & Epidemiology.
She says that “My patients are my people. I have a mostly research position and one-day-a-week clinical position, but if I see 19 patients on my schedule, I realize tomorrow’s going to be a really long day, and I grapple with it a little bit. But I have shifted from that to now going into practice and getting to see the patients, and at the end of that 19-patient scheduled day, I’m much more rejuvenated.”