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  • Change Your Focus to Control Burnout

    Saturday’s wellness symposium “Physician Wellness: Tools to Take Home” sought to create community and support for attendees and to offer simple, effective practices for well-being and coping with stress. 

    Stephen A. Blatt, MD, addressed the issue of physician burnout and how understanding it first is the key to dealing with it. Long-term stress in the workplace can lead to burnout. What burnout isn’t: fatigue and too much stress. Rather, the elements of burnout are exhaustion and unrelenting stress, depersonalization, and reduced sense of accomplishment.1

    Strategies to address these manifestations of burnout include changing your habitual focus from feeling victimized and overwhelmed by uncontrollable circumstances to:

    • Controlling the control-ables
    • Asking yourself empowering questions
    • What am I overlooking right now that is going better than expected?

    In conclusion, if your focus is your reality, then admitting you are in burnout and choosing to attend to self-care can reboot your life and repair and rebuild resilience, said Dr. Blatt. This is achieved by shifting away from a paralyzing focus on victimhood, on what is not in your control, and on what you do not know, to what you can do and what you know. Otherwise, over the long term, feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious can create the physical and mental exhaustion of burnout. Take control of your focus to take control of your life.

    —Kathleen E. Erickson

    1 Maslach C, Leiter M. World Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):103-111.

    Further reading. For wellness resources, see

    Financial Disclosures: Dr. Blatt: None.

    Read more news about Subspecialty Day and AAO 2022.