How to Live a Better Life as a Busy Physician

A better life

There’s a lot to love about being a physician. The profession provides prestige, interesting work, handsome financial rewards and the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of patients. 

It can also be stressful.

According to a 2016 article published by TIME, physicians often feel emotionally exhausted as a result of their work and rank among the top of the list of professionals most likely to experience burnout

The reasons for burnout vary, but a Mayo Clinic study concluded that many doctors feel subjugated and stifled by the changing face of the doctor-patient relationship. That is to say that physicians are seeing a lot less of their patients’ faces and more of their computer screens. 

The study concludes that the increase in busywork tied to managing and maintaining electronic medical records is a key reason physicians burnout. In addition, changes to the billing and documentation are forcing physicians to spend less time in the exam room and more time on administrative tasks. 

That’s not what most physicians thought they’d be doing when they invested 12 or more years to learning their profession. It also leaves many wondering how they can live a better life. 

The good news is that people care about physicians, who are absolutely essential to the country’s quality of life. That’s why some really smart people working to figure out how to live a better life. 

Here’s a look at some of the answers they’ve come up with:

  • Be honest with yourself. Physicians aren’t known for admitting weakness. After all, people’s lives depend on their knowledge and decisions on a daily basis. That probably explains why so many physicians are so reluctant to admit they’re feeling burned out

    But they should. 

    The first step towards figuring out how to live a better life is to be honest about how you’re currently feeling. According to the Mayo Clinic study, which was conducted over three years and included nearly 7,000 physicians, 54 percent of those surveyed had at least one symptom of burnout. 

    Those who acknowledged their symptoms were more likely to seek help. 

  • Seek help. It’s no secret that there is a stigma attached to using employee assistant programs–especially among physicians. 

    But, the programs are there for a reason: they work. 

    Resist the urge to normalize and rationalize the stress (and distress) you feel. Use the resources available to you to take action to find peace within yourself and create positive change in your work environment. 

  • Change the culture. It may not always seem like it, but physicians have a great deal of power within their organizations. If you see things that are contributing to physician burnout, bring them to the attention of the physician leaders and hospital administrators. 

    There is a movement afoot to create cultures of well-being, and it’s being led by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Make the most of the momentum to change the work culture and you’ll be on your way to figuring out how to live a better life. 

  • Pay attention to the “Wellness Wheel.” An article on physician burnout published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information says that using a “Wellness Wheel” can be a powerful tool for physicians wondering how to live a better life. 

    The wellness wheel refers to the six types of wellness: physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social and occupational. The article’s authors suggest that physicians spend time every day reflecting on these six areas and whether or not each is “healthy.” If you find that your wellness wheel is out of balance, you have the power to address the roots of the problems.

At Elliot Health System, we pride ourselves on our ability to help providers maintain a healthy work-life balance. If that is something you would like to achieve, apply today.

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