Physician Wellness and Avoiding Burnout Starts with Taking Care of You

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2020

Physician wellness is critically important. It’s vital that we take care of ourselves so that we can take world-class care of our families and patients. This is one of my primary focuses this year as PAMED president, and it’s an issue I’m extremely passionate about.

I’ve been traveling around the state talking to physicians, groups, county medical societies, and others on the topic of physician burnout. Physicians often ask me how they can achieve wellness and resiliency.

In the last issue of Pennsylvania Physician, I shared external things that can help reduce burnout. This included advocating for less administrative hassles (e.g., prior authorization) and how the stress of the job (difficult patient cases, EHR overload, changes in requirements) can contribute to professional dissatisfaction.

IT’S VITAL THAT WE TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES SO THAT WE CAN TAKE WORLD-CLASS CARE OF OUR FAMILIES AND PATIENTS.
lawrence-john-md 
Lawrence John, MD
President, PAMED

In this column, I want to focus on internal things YOU can do to help avoid burnout and achieve wellness and resiliency.

  • Identify your stressors and take action to reduce them. As a two-physician family, my wife and I struggled at dinner time — we were tired, hungry, and wanted to connect instead of spending time in the kitchen. So, we hired someone to prepare healthy meals for our family when our children were younger. This enabled us to enjoy meals together without the stress of cooking.

  • Unplug from technology and connect with loved ones. Keep a good balance between work and home by spending time with family and friends doing things you enjoy.

  • Get enough sleep. Set a bedtime and honor it, realizing that you can finish what you were working on tomorrow.

  • Take mindful minutes throughout the day. Doing a few yoga poses, a 10-minute meditation, listening to your favorite music, and taking a few deep breaths can give you a quick reset. Try things out to see what works best for you.

  • Cultivate interests outside of medicine. Take up a new hobby, volunteer, start a second career, plan fun events, or read non-medical materials.

  • Build physical activity into your daily routine. Movement increases your energy, releases stress, and improves your mood.

  • Set aside time to do nothing. Schedule a few minutes of “nothing” into your day to clear your mind and avoid filling the space with other things.

  • Eat healthy food, drink water, and avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine.

How do you avoid burnout and achieve personal and professional satisfaction? We want to hear from you. Go to www.pamedsoc.org/wellness to join the conversation.

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Lawrence John, MD
President, PAMED

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