Half of all physicians experience burnout at some point in their careers. And training is actually a peak time for this to occur. Symptoms include emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and lack of personal accomplishment.
So what can you do to prevent physician burnout? At the Nov. 13 “Can We Have It All? Building and Balancing — Tools for Thriving at Career and Life” YO symposium, an expert panel shared several tips. Here are three that stood out:
- Identify your core values and priorities. “Remember who you were before the world told you who you were,” said Janice Law, MD. “And know that something will suffer as you prioritize, but that’s okay,” added Tamara Fountain, MD.
- Recalibrate and create a plan that protects your priorities. Think of your schedule as circular instead of linear. If you add one thing, something else will have to decrease. Remember that you have a finite space for your physical, emotional and spiritual capacity.
- Focus on your relationships. They will be your foundation when addressing burnout.
Julia Rosdahl, MD, said that a common perception is that physicians are the problem -- that burnout stems from a physician’s inability to cope.
However, data suggests the opposite. Infrastructural causes have the predominant impact. Therefore, you can make impactful changes in your environment to build a happier and more fruitful career. Burnout doesn’t have to be the end-all be-all. As Jeff Pettey, MD, told attendees, “Burnout is not a destination you just arrive at.”
To help you better cope with stress and restore your own well-being, the Academy is developing a series of wellness events and resources for all ophthalmologists. You can also read about how one young ophthalmologist dealt with depression during his training -- and what his program did to support him.