Physician burnout has become a primary concern among some doctors working in hospitals and other healthcare institutions. With more patients needing quality medical services each day and other administrative tasks, doctors must stay in their offices for long hours. Moreover, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has even increased their need to keep their medical practices afloat, not just for themselves but to save the lives of others.
Unfortunately, these circumstances have contributed to the higher rate of physician burnout in the country. This condition has become a primary concern among doctors working in the hospital and other healthcare institutions.
Keep reading this article to learn more about physician burnout, its causes, consequences, and solutions.
What Is Physician Burnout?
Physician burnout refers to a stress reaction characterized by some interrelated symptoms caused by a constantly depleted energy and negative balance. It occurs when the doctor’s workload affects their ability to recharge, causing them to function in low energy mode. In other words, they serve and work more, but they achieve fewer results.
On the other hand, to better understand physician burnout, it’s essential to be familiar with its three interrelated components. These are:
- Emotional exhaustion: It occurs when the physician starts to distance themselves from work cognitively, emotionally, and physically. When they’re exhausted, they show symptoms of irritability and unresponsiveness to their patients’ needs.
- Depersonalization: Commonly known as compassion fatigue, it happens when the physician demonstrates symptoms of emotional numbness and indifference toward their patients. They find themselves not emotionally available for their patients.
- Lack of efficacy: It occurs when the physician has constant feelings of incompetence and lack of control over their work. It makes them doubt their efficiency and effectiveness in helping patients with their medical conditions.
What Are The Causes Of Physician Burnout?
Now that you’re aware of what physician burnout is, it’s time to learn its causes. These can include:
- Stresses of Patient Care
Simply being a physician who engages in medical practice may cause burnout. Because physicians deal with scared, sick, and dying people regularly, they’re more likely to experience high stress combined with little control over their work.
- Specific Job
Another cause of physician burnout is the nature of their specific job. Aside from the generic stress associated with patient care, dealing with their particular job may also become highly stressful due to many reasons. These include the hassles of call rotation, personality clashes in their department and personal work team, local healthcare politics, and many more.
Indeed, the specific jobs involved in a modern healthcare environment have made it a difficult place to work for physicians, causing a high rate of burnout among them.
- Leadership Of The Immediate Supervisors
Sometimes, the physician’s stress levels and work satisfaction may be influenced by the leadership skills of their immediate supervisors. For example, having an unskilled or absent supervisor at work may be a significant source of stress for many doctors.
- Personal life
Although personal life allows physicians to recharge their energy account after an exhaustive day at work, there are multiple situations at home that may interfere with their ability to do that. These can include simple conflicts with the spouse, illness in a child or family member, financial pressures, and many more.
What Are The Consequences Of Physician Burnout?
Generally, physician burnout comes with consequences. It may harm multiple parties, including the physician’s patients, their medical practice, their family, and the physician themselves. Below are the common consequences of physician burnout:
- Compromised Patient Care
When doctors experience burnout, they lack empathy, proper physician-patient communication, and decision-making skills. These situations may compromise quality patient care in various ways, such as reduced patient satisfaction, poor patient outcomes, failed interpersonal relationships, increased medical errors, and many more.
- Negative Impact On Physician’s Health And Well-Being
Physician burnout may also have a negative impact on the professional’s overall health and well-being. For instance, a physician who experiences symptoms of burnout may be battling with anxiety, depression, lack of self-confidence, disruptive behaviors, mood disorders, and alcohol/drug abuse.
Moreover, physician burnout may also increase the person’s risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many more.
- Expensive Costs For The Healthcare Industry
Physician burnout may also result in expensive costs for the healthcare industry. Typically, healthcare facilities with a high rate of physician burnout are more likely to experience low productivity and high resignation rates. When this happens, they may become understaffed, leading to the reassignment of too many workloads to other medical professionals, which in the end, increases medical errors and mistreatment of patients.
Also, due to the increasing demand for physicians in the healthcare industry, the healthcare facilities may spend more money in replacing a physician, depending on their specialty and expertise level.
What Are The Solutions For Physician Burnout?
Due to the significant impacts of physician burnout, it’s crucial to know how to resolve this stress-related condition. Below are a few solutions for physician burnout:
- Promote Self-Care
One of the effective ways to reduce the risk of physician burnout is to promote self-care. They can do this by maintaining good sleep hygiene, doing mindfulness exercises, and joining peer support groups. Also, they can use a wearable device to beat stress and empower them to take control of their health. Remember, the more doctors practice self-care, the more they can mitigate the risk of burnout.
- Participate In Resilience Training
To reduce burnout among physicians, conducting resilience training can be an excellent option. It teaches physicians some coping techniques to handle occupational stress more effectively. It also helps them develop the skills necessary for adequately navigating the dynamics of medical malpractice. When doctors participate in resilience training, they’ll learn to meet the current demands of their jobs to maintain fulfilling lives.
- Maximize Engagement
Sometimes, burnout occurs when a physician doesn’t feel like they have autonomy or purpose. Because of this, maximizing engagement can be an excellent way to prevent or minimize the risk of burnout. They can do this by seeking professional development opportunities, increasing collaboration among team members, and creating an environment of teamwork.
- Use Of Healthcare Technologies
Another solution for physician burnout is using healthcare technologies. This means that healthcare facilities should integrate artificial intelligence and robots to boost operation flow and maximize the relationship between physician and patient.
Physician burnout is a problem affecting the entire healthcare industry. It has a negative effect on the professional’s well-being, patient care, and many more. So, keep the information mentioned above in mind to have an in-depth understanding of what burnout is for physicians. That way, they’ll be empowered with solutions necessary to have fulfilling personal and professional lives.