Preventing physician/provider burn-out: knowledge is power

In a 2013 survey conducted by the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Internal Medicine (Rochester, MN) more than half of the physicians surveyed reported increasing stress associated with symptoms such as suicide ideation, depression, and burnout. Often when this type of information and statistics affect patient safety, swift action is taken; however, with physician symptoms, we appear to be slow to respond. This begs the questions, how are you dealing with the stress of private practice? Do you have coping mechanisms? Can you identify the areas of practice causing greatest stress? What can you do about those areas for your own personal health?

Simply recognizing burn-out can prevent potential problems. When a provider is ‘weakened’ by the stresses of life, there may be a greater risk of seeking stress relief with patient interactions, drugs/alcohol, or other unprofessional conduct – all of which could lead to serious personal and professional problems. If you recognize signs of burn-out, consider seeking help from a trained mental health professional. The American Association of Family Practitioners published a article in the April 2002 issue that also included suggestions like seeking out a support group and trying to avoid cynicism. For more information on ideas for managing work-related stress, try these links:

KevinMD.com – http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/11/recognize-manage-physician-stress-burnout.html

AMA – http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2003/09/pfor1-0309.html

Journal of Medical Practice Management – https://www.med.upenn.edu/gastro/documents/Sotile.pdf