HOW CAN YOU TREAT BURNOUT?
Unfortunately, there is no “secret sauce” or “silver bullet” to treat burnout. Just as unfortunate, if you sit back, feeling like a victim of your circumstances, waiting for your employer to swoop in and save you from this epidemic, it’s going to be a rough and disappointing ride. If you have diagnosed yourself with burnout, then it is time for action.
First of all, you should also be filling out a PHQ-9 (free versions here or here) and pay attention to the recommendations in the scoring. Secondly, you need to take action on this issue, STAT, before you continue to spiral downwards.
|PRO TIP: If you are depressed and/or burned out, and work within a larger healthcare organization, consider starting with a call to HR to get connected to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) network. You can usually get FREE help this way|
Remember part of our definition of burnout included this: your batteries are drained and you are unable to recharge them fast enough to keep up with the demands on your energy (mental, physical and emotional). You need to get back to an energy homeostasis, by tipping the scales in a net positive direction. Here’s the best way to start: take a binary inventory of your personal and professional life, dividing everything you can think of under the following headings: DRAIN vs. RECHARGE. If an activity tends to “drain” your energy, then list it underneath “DRAIN,” and if an activity tends to recharge your energy, then list it underneath “RECHARGE.” Be brutally honest here, as you only sabotage your healing process with anything but the truth. The table below is an example of how this exercise may look:
|Spending time on social media||Spending time with friends/family|
|EMR documentation||Lifting weights|
|Being a weekend warrior||Taking a walk|
|Alcohol (restless sleep)||Meditation|
|Seeing difficult patients||Reading for pleasure|
|Working with burned out colleagues||Outdoor recreation|
If you are burned out, then your life is imbalanced and weighted too heavily by energy DRAINS. These activities need to be cut out, or at least scaled way back, as continuing them will impede your progress, as well as leaving you susceptible to burnout in the future. Between eliminating and scaling back these energy DRAINS, you should be able to find some additional time and energy to reallocate to those activities in your RECHARGE category. The more aggressive you are in your choices and actions, the faster you will dig out of the burnout state that you find yourself in.
|SIDE NOTE:We know you inherently understand the basics of this energy concept, given that you are likely reading this Ebook on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Once these electronics are unplugged and put to work, the battery life starts to drain, and the rate at which this happens depends on the demand you are putting on it. At some point, your device will need to be plugged in to recharge, and you understand that it will recharge fastest if you eliminate or minimize the energy demands during that time (like turning the screen off). Now, think about how that analogy applies to your personal energy management.|
You may be thinking “My life is too complicated, and these recommendations are overly simplified.” Well, life is often complicated and complex, but that is usually a result of the decisions we make, both large and small, active and passive, conscious and subconscious, but you can simplify your life by making some intentional decisions. Do not forget that you are empowered to be in control of your life, including digging yourself out from burnout, and it all starts with the one simple step of making your “Drains vs. Recharge” list. Let us also not forget Occam’s Razor, the problem-solving principle that influences our medical decisions during every shift, which tells us that the simplest explanation is usually the right one.
DISCLAIMERS: 1) The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer. 2) I don’t know what I don’t know, so feel free to message me if you don’t agree with something that you read.
KEYWORDS: #thePAblueprint #burnout #depression #medicine #physicianassistant #nursepractitioner #doctor #physician #barriers #wellness #efficiency #proficiency #control #worklifebalance #happinessatwork #carpediem #clinician #stress #covid #covid19 #pandemic #lifehacks #leverage #tools #charting #physician #MDM #worklife #worklifebalance