How to handle burn-out in the medical profession

Members Answer - Suggestions for 'burn-out'?

I am a young physician going thru a burn out phase. It is becoming increasingly difficult to manage a medical career and a personal life which is really nonexistant and has been for some time now. I need advice on what else I can do as a physician, an alternative within the medical profession that allows for some time to have a life. Any guidance will be greatly appreciated. thank you." - HBP (October 2000)

Answers

"It appears nobody has answered your plea for help. I sympathize with you because I frequently have waxing and waning burn-out myself. I am a mother of two and have a physician for a husband. My initial solution to burn-out was to have another child a few years ago, so that I could refocus my efforts and attention...I felt the family was drifting apart. Although my husband is still distant (I don't know how he can work all the hours he does and get reimbursed so little...he's in burn-out too), my son, daughter and I are close. About a year later, I left my 50 hour/week job and went part-time. I still feel stretched to the limit, in that I spend quite a bit of my free time helping my husband with his private solo practice, but I can't imagine how I ever survived a 50-hr per week job before, with the same responsibilities.

But as I said, I still feel extremely stressed at times, frustrated I never have time to myself (I started reading a great book 5 years ago and I still have 1/4 of it to go!), but I remind myself that if I want to continue to work, this is the best situation I could ever find...that usually snaps me out of it for awhile (and it is true...this is the best situation I could be in...part-time, take off whenever I need to, adjust my schedule to accommodate my kids' schedules).

I think to survive burn-out, you have to prioritize exactly what is important to you. Career, family, free time, community involvement, research, or whatever. You may need to quite your current job and look for one which is more compatible to the life-style you want and need to have. Going into solo practice will give you more control over your work hours, vacation, and overhead expenses ... having control over your work hours and vacation gives you incredible power to relieve those stressors. You may need to change the speciality you're in...maybe an ancillary field. Or maybe you need a different type of practice setting; e.g. a government clinic which is opened only 9 -5 and weekends always closed, academics, insurance physicals, locum tenens as a career, or whatever appeals to you. And don't forget, it's okay to work part-time too.

Take some time off and don't work at all...things may start to fall into place then, once all the stressors have been relieved. Just remember, you're not the only one in burn-out phase."- AA (July 2001)

 

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