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Welcome to this session of grand rounds, a collection of posts I have discovered in the blogosphere and have found of interest and hope you do too.
Although the term burnout was first coined in the early 70s, it would take several decades before this phenomena, that has gripped the medical profession, became more popularized.
In my post “Burnout Continuum,” I suggested that burnout was not an all or none phenomena but instead had a more insidious course and listed several factors as root problems plaguing the current crop of practicing physicians..
An anonymous physician on Kevin MD is frustrated with the current medical system and points to increasing risk for burnout in, “Physicians Have Become Devalued In Modern Healthcare.”
They say love is like war.
Well how about medicine?
In the STATNEWS article, “Physicians Aren’t “Burning Out.” They’re Suffering From Moral Injury,” the physician author equates the detrimental effect of being in the front line of medicine to that of a combat soldier and how this may be misinterpreted as burnout.
Yet another anonymous physician on Kevin MD provides the stark reality on how the “light at the end of the tunnel” we mention when completing our residencies is not so bright and in fact may be darker due to burnout in, “This Burned Out Physician Was Happier As A Resident.”
Leave it to medical students to create mnemonics for everything.
Medical students are a smart bunch, realizing that some medical specialties are more conducive to better lifestyles than others.
You guessed it.
They created a mnemonic for the so called, “Lifestyle Specialties,” terming it the ROAD to success (Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology, and Dermatology).
However just because you are a full fledged member of one of these specialties does not mean you are immune to burnout.
A beloved member of the physician financial community, radiologist Vagabond MD, graciously opens up about the fight with his burnout demons in a riveting post at The Happy Philosopher titled, “Adventures In Burnout: One Physician’s Story.”
Fortunately there is a growing breed of physicians that are now escaping the grips of burnout and taking meaningful precautions to prevent it from ever taking hold again.
Dr. Charmaine Gregory tells of her personal struggle with burnout and subsequent reclamation of her wellness in the Doximity article, “How I Beat Burnout.”
Want an easy way to combat burnout practicing medicine?
The simplest is to reduce your actual clinical hours.
This is the path that I have chosen at this stage in my career.
I have opted to reduce my clinical hours to a 4 day work week.
It has done wonders to my psyche and allows me to recharge my batteries.
I came to this solution on my own, but now I have science to back it up with the New York Times article, “A 4-day Workweek? A Test Run Shows A Surprising Result.”
Of course many physicians are unable to take the financial hit dropping a day of clinical practice would cause to their bottom line and thus feel financially imprisoned by their work schedule.
This signifies the importance of becoming financially independent as quickly as possible so that you can break free from this time-money trade-off and reclaim your life.
The Physician Philosopher eloquently describes why achieving financial independence may be your best weapon in the fight against burnout in, “3 Ways Financial Independence May Save The Practice of Medicine.”
Physician Heal Thyself!
It is a common paradox that plagues the medical community.
As providers of medical care we can recite from rote memory all the things that need to be done to improve life for a patient.
Yet physicians themselves are among the most difficult of patients.
We minimize/ignore our ailments in order to continue plodding away at our demanding work schedules, putting ourselves in harms way with burnout risk.
Well I am happy to say that there is a developing band of merry men (and women) that are pioneering a new life blueprint for us to follow so that we can prioritize our own lives and finally heal ourselves.
Crispy Doc has compiled a list of these avant garde physicians in, “Doctors Who Cut Back Early.”
Hope you enjoyed the reading material.
Have a great rest of the week.
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Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
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Great round up, Xrayvsn!
I was literally just having this debate with someone on my blog…. Taking time off is the best way to combat this, in my opinion, too. But you typically have to have some modicum of financial success before you can really do that. I call it Partial FIRE (making enough progress that you can cut back). And it has been hugely helpful for me.
Keep up the good work!
Appreciate the comment Jimmy. I agree that there is no two ways around it, have to be in a position of financial strength before you can negotiate from a position of power.
Thank you for continuing to bring up this important issue. As a recognized voice on this subject and a CrispyDoc “doc who cut back”, I cannot agree more that working less is part of the solution to physician burnout. Part of the solution….
Other elements include doing work you enjoy and working with people you like. If you are stuck doing crummy work within an organization with bad culture and no sense of community, only cutting back by 100% will solve the burnout problem.
Thanks Vagabond. I still think your post on the Happy Philosopher was the premier discussion on the topic. I hope to ease back some too and turn the burner to a lower setting.
I am enjoying my three-day a week schedule.
It is cutting-edge. The NYT hasn’t even written about it yet.
I am definitely jealous. My body/mind has adapted to my 4 day/wk schedule. So 3d/wk sounds very appealing 🙂
Enjoyed your survey of the state of burnout. Thanks for mentioning me in the same breath as the varsity team, my friend. The disease is well documented and the treatments are just starting to enter mainstream consciousness. I think with a bit of financial literacy and discipline, every doc could target a slow fade to a well-remunerated hobby of medicine on his or her terms. Like Vagabond, I’ve anecdotally experienced an increase in my level of engagement with medicine and desire to keep current when I am fresh enough on my days off to dig into the literature and pursue… Read more »
You certainly belong in any collection I create CD and thanks for your posts, they are entertaining and always informative.
I’m glad that you are confirming the effects Vagabond achieved with his decreased clinical time.
4 days a week is a brilliant start! (after a couple of years being stuck with the dreaded Friday OR slot reserved for newbies, thereafter I vowed to take Fridays off… which really just balanced out the one weekend every month I was working). Wealthy Doc, I’ll see your 3 days and raise you (?lower you) to 2 days! Ironically, changes to my office efficiency and patient population have allowed me to see as many patients in 2 days as I previously would have seen in 3 days (or what some might see in 4 days with the added burden… Read more »
I absolutely love that you found such a great way to reclaim and recharge your batteries. That really is the kind of work schedule that could make you practice indefinitely. My goal is to get down to 3 days at one point and I think that might prolong my career in the long run. Medicine on your own terms can really put an end to burnout. Of course you have to be able to financially withstand the changes as well but it is not as bad as it seems because of how the progressive tax system works. I wrote about… Read more »
Saw this burnout so frequently among the physicians that I have worked with over the years. Especially with the company I work for pushing the physicians to see a set number of patients everyday that is absolutely unreasonable. I’ve also seen these numbers they are pushing for among the physicians cause a serious decline in good care being given and this is probably also a result of burnout. Great post!
Thanks Andrea. Unfortunately financial bottom line medicine is starting to take over and it is more like an assembly line system compared to the past where doctors had time to actually see patients. Can you believe that doctors used to make house calls? In our time based system that is no longer a viable option