Are you Feeling Burned Out?
As you may know, the medical profession has high rates of burnout, higher than many other professions. Some studies estimate physician burnout at 50%, with nurses experiencing almost as high of levels of burnout as physicians! Studies also show that medical students and residents are burned out too. I have yet to come across a study related to NP burnout, but there is no doubt that NPs are burned out as well. Burnout affects our quality of life, our relationships and our mental and physical health. It also trickles down and negatively affects the quality of care we provide to our patients. Numerous studies link burnout with poorer patient outcomes, increased risk of lawsuit, and poorer patient satisfaction. It is also estimated that burnout costs the US almost 5 billion dollars a year! So what exactly is burnout? Simply put, it's the accumulation of work-related stresses which culminates in physical exhaustion. This occurs for many reasons such as excessive demands at work including charting, tasks, and paperwork. Burnout is also affected by the number of hours spent at work, many times putting more time in on patient charts than actual patient visits. Healthcare providers are especially susceptible to burnout due to the nature of their work, caring for patients under constant stress. Although burnout is dangerous for both providers and patients, it is not talked about nearly as much as it should be. Since burnout is so problematic, what's the solution to fix it? First of all, it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout which generally occurs over 12 stages. Symptoms include excessive fatigue, insomnia, lack of identity, and depression, just to name a few. The key to knowing that you are feeling burned out versus being clinically depressed is that your symptoms are related to your work, and improve once work-related stresses resolve. Burnout is reversible, but it's up to you to take the steps to improve your situation if you're feeling burned out. So what should you do if you've reached the point of burnout? First recognize what you're feeling and know that you're not alone, many people are also experiencing burnout and it is nothing to be ashamed about. Once you acknowledge this, the next step is that you speak with your supervisor to figure out a plan to reduce your stress at work since burnout is directly linked to this. This may mean longer patient visits, more administrative time, or reducing the number of hours spent at work. It's also essential that you take time off to rest, since burnout culminates in physical exhaustion.
Make sure that if you're feeling burned out you address your symptoms immediately, because if you put it off, things may continue to get worse.