Researchers have suggested that dermatologists may be next in line to fall to physician burnout. According to Tait Shanafelt, M.D., a hematologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., there are several common drivers, including excessive workload, inefficiency, loss of control over workload, work-life imbalance and loss of meaning. To protect yourself so that you can offer your best to your patients, keep the following recommendations in mind:
Outsource what makes sense. Are you and your staff taking care of janitorial tasks? Do you do things by hand that could be automated? You might love to put a personal touch on everything, but if certain tasks drain you, see what you can delegate, outsource, share – or skip. (Will anyone even know if the top shelf of your sample closet is organized?)
Schedule healthy habits. Meditation, exercise, sleep: make sure you book yourself into your schedule and make time for the habits that recharge you. Being rested, fit, calm and focused is for your patients as much as it is for you!
Keep an eye on your patients. When you’re stressed, you may not pick up on details. Perhaps a patient has an odd new symptom or concern that isn’t quite at the surface. If you’re preoccupied, you may miss the chance to help them. Work on mindfulness activities that can train you to be more fully present with your patients.
Plan team-building activities appropriately. A sense of camaraderie can help your workplace function better, but the standard tactics don’t always work. Maybe your staff loves a happy hour, but perhaps your team would really prefer a breakfast. They might be more of a paintball crew than a movie-night group. Rather than forcing a specific kind of celebration, work together to figure out what would bring your office together.
Book time with friends who understand. Whether it’s parents at your kids’ school, fellow derms, or just old friends who always get you, make sure you’re not always wearing your doctor hat. You need down time with people who know the off-duty “you” as well as the professional version.
Cut yourself some slack. Don’t get down because you can’t be Superman. It’s impossible to do it all, all the time. Be realistic. Prioritize, do what you can, and take time to congratulate yourself for your success!