Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Burnout in Medicine - Dr Frieschlag advice on thriving and surviving in medicine

Thanks Dr Freischlag for the recent post in Linkedin "bloom where you're planted: surviving and thriving in a medical career.
      This provides a nice framework for young professionals and a turning point for us older professionals to reflect and act upon.
      Burnout amongst high stress professionals is not uncommon no matter what the profession. I recently assessed what  burnout meant with other professions to understand why physicians are so prone to burnout.
      Article on banking- "What makes for such an elongated burnout zone? Michel’s research found that burnout rises as bankers hit their mid-20s. At this stage, she said it becomes obvious that they can’t keep pushing themselves so hard: the bankers she studied “developed embarrassing tics, such as nail biting, nose picking, or hair twirling.” Thereafter, however, things are supposed to get better – after six years in the industry Michel’s bankers took better care of themselves. They learned that this was the only way to survive."
   Burnout in law- "Law can be a very stressful profession.  Frequently there are long hours and demanding bosses and clients.  If a lawyer makes a mistake there is always the risk of a malpractice claim hanging over his head.  Some areas of practice are very emotional, and that can be difficult.  "
         So long hours and the threat of a suit seem to be a universal risk for burnout in most professions.
         The posts here and elsewhere highlight problems we healthcare professionals all face that supercede long hours, risk of lawsuit or loss of professional character as faced by all high risk professionals -
In addition to those risk factors, healthcare professionals risk:
..Losing control over provision of what we feel is appropriate care to our patients to third parties
... And Loss /injury of a patient
Let's face it -we can be sued, be humiliated, or lose a job and move on, but none of us can just "get over" a loss or injury to a patient due to third party oversight or error!! It's impossible. Unfortunately, we do not do a great job at developing mentorship groups to understand ahead of time how to manage those things we actually have control over and how to cope when things do not turn out ideally. We are afraid to talk about it and frequently told to NOT talk about it. Worse of all is that organizations focus on and punish those who committed this or that error rather than assessing how do we teach risk / error prevention and management or how to communicate/ function as a team.
We can do better.
Kenneth A. Lipshy, MD, FACS

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