The original post is on Christmas Day 2018 but the principle remains true no matter the time of year. In medicine, burnout is a commonly faced problem. The Holidays and time away from family makes this even more difficult.
This Christmas and the Holidays in general we stress the importance of having good support from family, friends, and colleagues. A commonly used term is “burnout” which is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary
as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”
Burnout comes in many forms and from various causes with three of the most common being from “work schedule (nights, weekends), patients/patient interactions, and high-stress work. The least common reasons cited were interactions/relationships with other ED staff, picked the wrong specialty or profession, and no personal satisfaction overall.”
In addition to physicians there is burnout in other groups such as nurses, medical students, and staff in general. There are ways to assess for burnout including surveys but there is a triad that frequently appears:
- Emotional exhaustion
- Depersonalization (negative, callous, cynical and detached responses towards others as well as alienation from others)
- Reduced personal accomplishment (feelings of incompetence and poor achievement at work)
Once we recognize burnout, family and friends are important resources to turn to for support. Our friends can also be our colleagues. Multiple emergency medicine physicians have come up with solutions to burnout such as Rick Bukata, Ken Milne, and the crew from Emergency Medicine Cases. Each of these resources offer tips and tools to provide support.
One method is using colleagues that we can feel safe to turn to when we need help including what Sara Gray describes as a “failure friend” which is an empathetic work friend who understands the context and can be your safety net. In turn, you can do the same for that colleague.
We do not have to rely solely on family, friends, and colleagues. There are professionals fully capable of helping us, as well. The key is to seek the assistance we need and not keep it to ourselves. For those listening, even if you are not suffering from burnout make sure to reach out to those who are experiencing these symptoms and be the helping hand they need.
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