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How Doctors Can Avoid Burnout

Within every profession and life stage or situation, there is a risk that you, as an employee, business owner, parent, or student, will experience some burnout. This is especially true for Physicians.

The American Medical Association has found that doctors are more likely to experience burnout than other professionals, with 63% reporting signs of burnout. The most common causes for this stressful state are long work hours and lack of control over their schedules.

As a physician, you do everything you can to make it through Medical School, your residency, and navigating your life as a fully functioning doctor in addition to your home life and evolving relationships over time. All of these sudden, even slow build-up of changes and years of hard work can build up, leading to work burnout.

What exactly is burnout, and how can you, as a medical professional, work on beating burnout at work and learn how to deal with burnout and self-care? Throughout this article, we'll put burnout under the microscope, looking at why it matters, the symptoms, and how you can deal with burnout as a medical professional.

What is Burnout and Why It Matters

The American Medical Association calculates that over 63% of doctors report signs of burnout, which results in one in five physicians intending to leave their current practice within two years due to the difficulty of maintaining their work-life balance and burnout.

Medical professional burnout is a genuine occupational hazard. Burnout causes doctors to have a higher chance of dealing with this issue than the rest of the United States workforce due to the grueling hours, high-stress environment, and ever-changing guidelines in addition to the recent covid-19 pandemic.

The three major signs of burnout include:


This can be physical and emotional exhaustion to the point where you don't think you can keep doing what you're doing anymore.

Sarcasm and Compassion Fatigue

This can be dangerous for doctors as you might not have as much compassion as you would have had with patients and their families; you might find yourself venting to others or having a shorter fuse with your patients and their families.

Self Doubt

This one is hazardous because you'll start to doubt yourself and your medical abilities, which could mean that you're making poor decisions or that you aren't making a difference in someone's life.

Physical and mental burnout can harm you and your patients, so it's important to get ahead of this issue at the first sign you may be suffering from burnout.

For more reading on the symptoms of burnout, check out this article.

How You Can Avoid Medical Professional Burnout

You can beat burnout, no matter how severe your case of burnout is. The first step is to recognize that you're experiencing it and then take steps to recover from it. This can be done by having a conversation with your manager or supervisor about how you're feeling, taking time off of work if possible, engaging in self-care activities (like meditation or taking walks), and making sure that you are caring for yourself physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

Here are some tips for beating burnout at work as a medical professional:

Take Breaks

Taking breaks is an important part of avoiding burnout. When you feel overwhelmed, take a break and do something unrelated to work for a few minutes. Your brain needs time away from tasks to recover and come up with new ideas.

If you're having trouble taking breaks or asking for help when it comes to your workload - or if other doctors are reluctant to give their colleagues space - it may be time for some serious self-care measures:

• Talk with someone outside the hospital about what's going on.

• Schedule some time off.

• Get a massage or walk around town (or just sit quietly).

Don't feel guilty about taking care of yourself! Taking care of yourself and ensuring you are okay is ultimately the best thing you can do for your patients and your staff.

Surround Yourself With People Who Care About You

If you're feeling burnt out, it's important to talk to someone. If you don't have anyone in your life who is willing or able to listen, try finding someone else.

Don't spend all your time at work, and don't spend all your time with colleagues or patients. Make sure to get out and about and spend some quality time with friends and family, especially those who make you laugh!

Maintaining a work-life balance and burnout can be hard, but it must be done to stay healthy and happy!

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve your energy levels. It also helps you sleep better at night, which can help you feel more positive about yourself during the day.

This helps, in turn, with staying healthy, which will reduce your risk of burnout or depression.

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is important for your health. It can help you manage stress, improve memory and concentration, increase creativity and problem-solving skills, boost energy levels, and even prevent burnout.

Sleep deprivation, common in medical professionals, especially doctors working in a hospital, can lead to burnout because it affects the body's ability to deal with stress effectively.

Beating Medical Professional Burnout is Possible

You can beat burnout. The first step is to recognize that you are experiencing it and then take steps to recover from it. Using the tips above, you can work through your burnout and manage a healthy return to work after burnout.

If these steps don't help after some time away from work, then it may be time for further treatment, such as therapy or medication, to help restore balance in your life so that burnout doesn't happen again.

I hope this list has given you some ideas on fighting burnout. It's important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. The best thing you can do is try out a few different solutions until you find one that works for your lifestyle!

David Price MD is the Founder and CEO of getFREED, a business providing real estate education and vetting of individual deals to help physicians and other healthcare professionals build a passive stream of income, allowing them to work less and practice on their terms.

David lives with his wife and two daughters in Atlanta, GA, USA.

To find out more about David and getFREED, head to


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