The healthcare field has been in a state of constant change. From changes to insurance, budget cuts, expanding roles, and a global pandemic, it can be tough to stay passionate about what you do.
But don’t lose hope! There are ways to bring back the passion for healthcare and avoid burning out. Here are some tips to help you stay engaged and to enable those around you as well.
First, let’s talk about what it means to be burned out in the world of healthcare.
What is Burnout?
It’s a question that has been asked a lot recently: how do I know if I’m burned out?
At its core, burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It’s the second leading cause of physician attrition, right behind dissatisfaction with pay. It can lead to increased anxiety, increased absenteeism, job turnover, depression, and poor morale among teams, all of which can have detrimental effects on patient care.
It’s not just doctors who are affected by burnout. Nurses, therapists, physicians’ assistants, and all levels of other healthcare workers can feel worn down by the pressures of the job.
The 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout and Suicide Report announced a burnout rate of about 43%, which means it could be happening to roughly half your coworkers. If you’ve ever felt exhausted after your shift or like crying on your lunch break, there is a good chance you’re burned out.
The first step in healing from burnout is identifying its cause. You can’t keep living the exact same way and think that things will magically get better.
We know the number of burnouts has increased since the pandemic, but let’s look at what contributes to burnout and why it seems so common these days. Some of the most common reasons include:
Unclear or overwhelming expectations
With the media calling healthcare workers the real heroes of the pandemic came the burden of expectations. Suddenly, in the eyes of patients and media outlets, unrealistically large expectations were placed on those in healthcare, making them feel more like machines than actual human beings.
Lack of control over job duties and/or work environment
The overflowing of hospitals across the country has meant a loss of autonomy for some healthcare workers. Instead of setting their tone and managing their team, healthcare workers may find themselves at the mercy of management or environmental factors that impact job satisfaction.
Being undervalued by leadership
After being considered “essential” throughout the pandemic, it’s sad to see that the value of healthcare workers didn’t increase as much as it should have. Of course, it can be difficult to show up to work every day when you don’t feel like you’re receiving adequate recognition. This could make you feel like you do not matter.
Not having enough time to prioritize self-care
With the lack of sleep, stress overload, and lack of self-care time, burnout can happen. It’s important to remember that taking care of yourself should not be an afterthought. If you don’t prioritize your own happiness, who will?
The following tips might help you overcome these difficulties:
Learn How To Say No
If your burnout is caused by expectations that are too overwhelming, you might need to communicate better.
It’s important to remember that saying no is an option. If your higher-up doesn’t realize how much work you have on your plate, perhaps the problem is the establishment you work at.
If you feel like saying no is too challenging, try thinking of ways to say “no” that won’t cause hostility or tension or see what you can delegate.
Identify Stress Triggers And Change How You Manage Them
If it feels like no matter what you do, the stresses of your job keep piling up, try to identify things that might be triggering your burnout. Are there specific patients who bring out the worst in you? Are there colleagues you work with on certain days that cause more stress than they’re worth? Do some personal brainstorming and figure out how to recognize stressful situations before they happen.
Then prepare for these triggers. Develop a plan for coping with stress in the future. Whether it’s writing down your anxiety so you can talk about it later or having difficult (but necessary) conversations with people on your team, think of what might work best for you and give it a try.
Identify What Brings You Joy
Conversely, try identifying what brings you joy at work. What are some of the positive things about your job? Once you’ve identified these parts of your job, think about how you can incorporate them into your daily routine more frequently.
If the favorite part of your job is seeing your patients smile when you help them, find a way to remind yourself of that moment throughout the day.
Live In The Moment
It’s hard to get through a day when you’re worried about tomorrow. If you find yourself worried too much about the future, take a step back and appreciate where you are at that moment.
Try making an effort to make the most out of every hour and every appointment. This is not easy. If you’re worried about the pandemic or your future job prospects, it’s important to remember that things will eventually get better. In the meantime, make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and enjoying what you do at the moment.
Let’s Bring Back the Passion for Healthcare
Burnout can be incredibly isolating. Burnout sufferers need to remember that they’re not alone and that there are people who want to help. Consider joining a support group, finding a coach, or just reaching out to a friend or family member for extra encouragement.
If you’re interested in learning more about managing burnout within the field of healthcare, see my “5 Signs That You’re On the Verge of Burnout & What You Can Do About It Right Now.”
If you feel like burnout is causing your work performance to suffer, it’s okay to ask for help! As a culture development specialist who specializes in the healthcare industry, I would be happy to chat with you. We can talk about improving your workplace culture and making it a more positive, healthy environment for both employees and patients. Click here to talk with me.