A healthy sense of responsibility encourages the physician to call on her life lessons, extensive studies, compassion and experience to work through problems, including patient care, diagnosis and treatment, in a timely and productive manner. An exaggerated sense of responsibility, however, can be disabling.
It can cause a physician to question her own judgment, to a fault, actually impairing decision making skills and slowing down diagnosis and treatment of patients. If you are struggling with an overactive sense of responsibility, the negative and counterproductive thought pattern puts you at a higher risk of physician burnout and may, in fact, be putting your patients’ health at risk, as well.
Dealing with an exaggerated sense of responsibility can be similar to dealing with unreasonable guilt in that creating something written and concrete, and reviewing it often, may give you the foundation you need to break the unhealthy cycle and prevent physician burnout.
Start by redefining your true roles and responsibilities. It may be helpful to review professional literature or to consult a respected leader or peer to discuss differences between her sense of responsibility and your own. Are others really expecting from you what you expect of yourself? You may find that it is your exaggerated sense of responsibility, itself, that is preventing you from performing to your expectations.
Recognize that you must trust in your skills, judgment, and expertise if you are to best fulfill your responsibilities to your patients, to your family and to yourself.