Physician Burnout - Key Things that Every PreMed Must Know !

  • 28 September, 2016

The medical profession is regarded as one of the most coveted lines of work and doctors are praised for their unselfish contribution towards the health of their patients. On the flip side of the coin, medical students and practicing doctors fight a very high level of stress which often leads to "burnout".

Physician Burnout - Key Things that Every PreMed Must Know

1. What is physician burnout?

The battle with stress starts when a student is first drawn towards the medical line of career. From managing the MCAT prep course to being accepted into a good medical school followed by the completion of residency and fellowship, a medical student has a lot of things to deal with. Practicing doctors face critical situations and death on a regular basis which ultimately leads to negative feelings. In short, the emotional exhaustion and depression experienced by medical students and doctors is referred to as "physician burnout".

2. What factors contribute to the burnout situation?

  • Lack of control over one's schedule and time pressure
  • A chaotic workplace
  • Dissatisfaction with one's own performance
  • Poor sleep patterns, poor self-care and lack of family time
  • Patient death
  • Lack of resilience

3. What are the consequences of physician burnout?

When ignored, burnouts can lead to physician suicides too. Other unwarranted consequences include,

  • Increased clinical errors
  • Inability to interact with patients with empathy
  • Increased intent to quit practice
  • Physical exhaustion
  • A lowered sense of personal accomplishment
  • Depersonalization

4. How can students and doctors prevent the burnout?

The first step to prevent extreme burnout situation is to shred away the fear of exposing it. Seek help from the right resources. Others include,

  • Establishing a work-life balance
  • Understanding the ethical responsibilities of the profession (a topic that is emphasized right from the MCAT training course phase)
  • Practice a hobby regularly and find any activity that can act as a source of releasing the pent up pressure.
  • Establish a support system that may comprise of friends, family members or colleagues. This helps to discuss emotional experiences in the practice and derive the required support.

The life of a premedical student and the practicing doctor is undeniably stressful. The key to success lies in finding the ability to self-recharge and bounce back for yet another day of rewarding drudgeries!

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