Long hours, a stressful work environment, a closeness to life and death that few other professional people will ever experience – there is simply no denying that burnout among medical professionals is a continual issue and probably always will be. Furthermore, it isn’t just the doctors either. The efficient running of any healthcare institution relies on a range of distinct roles, all of which need to be operating at full capacity and all of which are vital to a medical institution’s ability to help its patients.
One positive side-effect of this situation though is that, with burnout so common within the community of medical professionals, there has been a wealth of wisdom built up over the years regarding how to deal with it. If you feel like you are at the end of your tether with your medical job, then you should take comfort from the fact that you are neither alone nor are you the first to be in this situation.
How to Recognize Burnout
Nevertheless, a particularly tricky issue when it comes to burnout is recognizing it in the first place. When the work is going well, you might think that how you are feeling is simply normal. But just because you are continually able to fulfill your duties does not mean you are not adversely affecting your own health.
There is currently a competitive talent market when it comes to medical roles. Health Jobs, a healthcare jobs recruitment service, says that one of the reasons for this is the current state of the job market. They also say that things never change – medical jobs are hard, and only the best recruits can fill them (and part of being a good recruit is learning how to manage burnout). This proves that you should be constantly on the lookout for signs of burnout in yourself. How can you recognize it, though?
The important thing to remember is that burnout has a mental and physical component. Being constantly exhausted, sleeping badly, or feeling like you have little time for other areas of your life are definitely signs, but so too is a feeling of despair, worthlessness, and a sense that you are not living up to the demands of your job – even when you are. Accordingly, you should bear in mind these symptoms and keep an eye out for them.
Tips for Mitigating Burnout
Once you have recognized burnout in yourself, follow these tips to do something about it:
Respect Your Biorhythms
The human body has different biorhythms, all of which regulate things like eating and sleep. To take just those two examples, try to do these at the same time every day and ensure that, when you are doing them, you are not working or worrying about work.
Give Yourself Time to Heal
Once you start doing something about burnout, your body will take some time to adjust and for you to feel better. Start giving yourself more time for rest and relaxation but don’t expect those first resting sessions to be blissfully recuperative.
Break Your Patterns
One of the reasons why it takes time to heal from burnout is that patterns are hard to break, and you will feel uncomfortable breaking them at first. If you resolve to stop evening work earlier, for example, then accept that it will feel odd and that you might even feel guilty at first. This will pass in time.
The most insidious thing about burnout is that it very often goes unnoticed. If you know what to look out for though, you can even recognize it in its early stages. It is then the time to make a change.