Burnout happens in every field of work, but it’s especially high among healthcare professionals in the midst of a global pandemic. Burnout can present itself in the form of physical symptoms: headaches and stomachaches; mental symptoms: exhaustion, cynicism, and pessimism; emotional symptoms: lack of energy and focus, and the feeling of being drained. Burnout most notably presents itself in reduced work performance, which is especially dangerous when working in the healthcare industry. Fortunately, there are ways that burnout can be prevented.
Make Sure Basic Needs Are Met
Every human has basic needs that need to be met, and eating, sleeping, and getting plenty of water are just a few of those basic needs. When it comes to working, breaks are necessary to enhance employee performance. Lunch breaks, or even shorter, 15 minutes breaks are necessary to help healthcare workers recharge. Healthcare workers typically work longer hours than the average employee, and going this long without taking time to rest and recharge gradually decreases employee performance over time.
At the same time, medical professionals should also engage in self-care outside of work. Hardly any workplace is completely stress-free 100% of the time, and a small amount of stress isn’t a bad thing. Because you will get stressed from time to time, it’s important to have healthy outlets to help reduce that stress. Exercise, yoga, meditation, sports, creative arts, and other leisure activities are good ways to reduce stress.
Create an Open-Door Policy
No workplace is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. When employees can speak with their employers about their concerns— and employers are willing to listen and make any necessary changes— the risk of employee burnout drops significantly. Employers and employees should have the same goal in mind: to provide the best possible care for all patients, so it shouldn’t be a difficult task for employees to communicate with their employer. It’s true that employers are trying to run a business, but remember that employees are a huge part of that business, and when they are taken care of and feel like they’re valued, their work performance increases.
With that being said, access to resources that will further benefit healthcare workers should be easily accessible. Working in a pandemic can have impacts on your health in any field of work, but healthcare workers are currently the most at risk for these impacts. These resources can include therapy— even something as simple as creating a space for talking and reflecting.
Search for New Employment
Some workplaces aren’t the best fit for everyone, no matter how much concerns are expressed. In this case, the best option would be to find another place of employment. This may not be a feasible option for everyone, but healthcare is a field that is always needed, and there are always jobs available in healthcare. Also, there are also niche job sites that allow you to search for job openings specifically in your line of work. Practice Match lists available OBGYN jobs, as well as neurology, rheumatology, nursing, pathology, radiology, and several other physician jobs for healthcare professionals searching for the employers that best meet their needs.
Maybe the particular practice or hospital you’re currently working at just isn’t the right fit for you. It’s possible that there’s another employer out there that fits better with your current needs. It is also possible that you may have more of an entrepreneurial personality, and starting your own medical practice would be a better option for you.
All of these tips can also be applied to other industries as well. Burnout isn’t unique to healthcare, it’s just that healthcare workers are in a more vulnerable position at the moment. With any job, it’s important to make sure that your basic needs are met (both on the job and outside of work) and that you’re able and comfortable with communicating with your employers, who are willing to provide resources to help you perform better. If all else fails, it just may be time to seek employment elsewhere.