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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

If you are scoring high on the PHQ-9 and not sure where to turn, start here or here.

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 mediaSpending time with friends/family
Work meetingsSleep
EMR documentationLifting weights
Being a weekend warriorTaking a walk
Alcohol (restless sleep)Meditation
Seeing difficult patientsReading for pleasure
Working with burned out colleaguesOutdoor 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

Published by Shayne Foley

I have dedicated myself to a lifelong pursuit of health and wellness, both personally and professionally, over the last 25 years. My passions, interests and experiences have led me to a multitude of health and wellness disciplines, resulting in an accumulation of over 40,000 hours of experience. My educational degrees include: Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Exercise Science, Master’s Degree in Biomechanics and a Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies. In addition to my educational accomplishments, the culmination of my career experiences outside of the classroom have developed my passion for coaching and teaching. Some of these experiences include: Performance coaching for elite athletes and business professionals (10+ years), teaching at multiple universities (6+ years) and working as a Physician Assistant (10 years). These academic, pedagogical and practical experiences have shaped, and continue to shape, my philosophies, theories and solutions related to health and wellness. I am thrilled and humbled to now be bringing all of my acquired knowledge, holistic approach and pragmatic methods into what I see as my most important and impassioned work to date: Coaching healthcare professionals to reach their personal and professional goals. I grew up in Western Massachusetts, and have spent the majority of my life living throughout New England. I currently reside in Vermont, where the environment and culture organically foster an optimal work-life balance. I live joyfully with my lovely wife and rescue dog. My other interests include outdoor recreation, lifestyle design, financial independence, travel and supporting my local community. I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to contact me, you can do so via the following ways: efficientclinician@gmail.com


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