As we’re still living in a COVID-19 climate, you may be feeling overwhelmed with keeping your patients and staff safe while still practicing successfully. And although there are many advantages with using the increasingly-popular telehealth, it does have its disadvantages when it comes to effectively diagnosing. It’s understandable if these challenges and stress are starting to cause some burnout.
Even if we weren’t dealing with COVID-19, feelings of burnout would still be common for many. Burnout can happen to the best of us, no matter what industry we’re in. Depending on who you are and what your personality is, the causes of it can vary. A simple definition of burnout is overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism, detachment and a feeling of ineffectiveness with your career.
Unfortunately, for dermatologists and other doctors, their burnout can affect patients as well. Doctor burnout can lead to sub-par patient experiences and lower satisfaction. Staff and team members may start to feel unsatisfied if their leader is disengaged too. Everyone involved is negatively affected, so it’s important to identify if you’re experiencing feelings of burnout and take action to remedy it.
We mentioned before that causes of burnout can come in different forms for many. But what are some of the more common causes for dermatologists specifically?
- Lack of Work/Life Balance – With so much to do in such little time, doctors often end up spending too much time in their practice or taking their work home with them. That can take its toll on being a good parent or spouse. This can be especially true for young doctors who are just starting a family, but still strongly applies to doctors of any age. Like with patients, negativity spreads. Children and spouses may be affected by the situation too.
- Too Many Administrative Tasks – It’s easy to say dermatologists may get burnout from having too large of a workload. But many might say it’s not the amount of patients they’re seeing, but the amount of additional administrative tasks that are causing the problems. A lot goes into running a practice other than seeing patients – managing a team, handling finances, marketing the practice and so on. If having to run a business and be the best dermatologist single-handedly, of course burnout will be common.
- Lack of Time to Pursue Outside Interests – Many dermatologists want to explore other things outside of everyday practice, such as research, teaching and other academic interests. They want to continue building their knowledge and sharing it with others. But with so much time committed inside the practice, there’s often not enough time to pursue this passion. If they’re putting more energy into areas they’re not as passionate about, they’re not going to be as happy.
- Using (or not using) an EMR – An electronic medical record (EMR) is a potential point of dissatisfaction for many dermatologists. The right EMR can help improve quality of care, reduce errors and enhance communication. But an inefficient EMR can cause more harm than good. Operationally, EMRs often have continual system updates and changing government mandates. Keeping up with these changes can be chronically stressful.
These issues can cause exhaustion, negative attitudes, employment turnover with doctors, and in more extreme situations, substance abuse and even suicide. Medscape’s 2019 National Physicians Burnout & Depression Report says that 44% of doctors show signs of physical and emotional exhaustion or burnout, which can lead to further mental health problems. We know not every dermatologist or doctor is unhappy, but clearly it’s a serious issue for a lot of people. So what actions can be done to prevent or remedy burnout?
- Prioritizing Time – Decide what’s important to you and take action. If that’s spending more time with your family, exploring academic interests or whatever else, make a plan to spend only a certain amount of hours in the practice so you have more free time and stick with it.
- Exercise and Sleep – Even if it’s one more thing to add to the schedule, making time for exercise can make a big difference with how your mind and body feel. The right amount of sleep is crucial too. Although it’s not always easy, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night will help you stay healthier, alert and productive. That varies depending on who you are – maybe you need eight to nine hours to function on all cylinders? Try to learn what works best for you and stay consistent with it.
- Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself – Your human, and can’t be everywhere and do everything all at once. Do the best you can and be OK with that. And depending on your situation, your workload may change. Some days (or weeks or months) may be better/worse than others. But regardless, don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
If being a dermatologist makes you happy, find a way to be a dermatologist again. A reoccurring piece in most of these burnout causes relates to spending too much time on NOT being a dermatologist, with the administrative and business work taking over. That’s our specialty. We want to help with the non-clinical aspects of your practice, so you can focus on what’s important – patient care. And so you can have the work/life balance you want.
We’re always a phone call or click away to support your needs. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today!