Patients want to see you before they flip their calendars. Aunt Betty wants to see if she can stay at your house longer, and plans to bring her special green “dessert.” Later, on your favorite chair, Grandpa Eddie might want to see if he can set the North American for snoring volume.
The holidays can be stressful, but rest assured, you can get through them with peace and joy instead of tension and oy vey. It just takes some mindfulness.
“I think the holidays present extra-stressful situations with patients, family and social events, so greater care is required at those times to prevent them from becoming too stressful and problematic,” says dermatologist Ronald Wheeland, M.D., a private practitioner in Tucson, Ariz., and former president of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. “I have to make a very distinct, conscious effort in order to relax or try to unwind.”
To maintain work/life balance, relax and embrace the season, Dr. Wheeland volunteers at a local food bank, works with his hands to carve wood into bowls and vases, and rides horses with his brother. He also recently completed a welding course and looks forward to sculpting new art.
Burnout is a Problem
According to this national survey of nearly 7,000 physicians conducted by the Mayo Clinic in December 2015, the rate of physician burnout had been increasing in almost every specialty. While people in all professions fight emotional exhaustion, physicians reported burnout at almost double the rate of the general population, the survey found.
Here’s the issue during the holidays: The burnout rate is worse among doctors who struggle with the ability to recover or recharge during their time off. “That’s not good for them, their families, the medical profession or patients,” said Tait Shanafelt, M.D. and Mayo researcher, in a press release about the survey.
Achieving satisfying work-life balance is an important issue among doctors, and that’s certainly true from now until New Year’s Day.