Running a successful medical practice is challenging. Not only do you have to devote time to your patients, but you also need to manage your staff and make sound business decisions. It’s no wonder that it seems like there are never enough hours in the day.
Not to put even more on your plate, but finding time for self-care — whatever that means for you — is critical to maintaining your own health and well-being. In a recent survey, 44% of physicians report burnout. As a physician, you need to be on top form to take care of your patients, lead your practice, and yourself.
What causes physician burnout?
The major contributing factors to physician burnout include being overwhelmed with administrative tasks, long hours, and electronic health records. When you went to medical school, you devoted your time to studying the human body and disease. You prepared to diagnose health problems and prescribe treatments to improve your patients’ health and quality of life — you didn’t spend time learning how to run a business.
Obviously, you can and are running a business, but how much time are you wasting on administration when you could be seeing patients or spending time with your family? Many physicians have to work hard to balance their patient responsibilities with tasks such as scheduling, dealing with canceled appointments, payroll, and other paperwork.
Other factors that contribute to physician burnout include:
- Fear of litigation
- Lack of respect
- Bad reviews and complaints
- Insufficient compensation
Why is physician burnout a problem?
Burnout affects your mental and physical health, as well as your cognitive function. For example, if you’re spending too many hours at your practice completing patient charts or other administrative paperwork, you’re getting home late, probably not eating well, and missing out on critical high-quality sleep. Lack of sleep alone can impair your memory and cognitive function, which increases your risk of making errors.
The extra stress can also lead to unhealthy life choices such as not getting enough exercise or drinking too much alcohol. When you’re stressed and burnt out, you’re also more likely to be short with your employees, family, and friends — which will only compound the issue.
What can you do about burnout?
Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your burnout. While you may need to invest more time initially, you can put structures in place in your practice that allow you to devote enough time to your patients, your practice, and yourself.
It often feels easier to just complete tasks yourself instead of teaching an employee to do something. However, delegating administrative tasks is the best way to clear your time for the more fulfilling and profitable work of seeing patients. While all your staff should be trustworthy and reliable, find a natural leader and train them to take over office and personnel management tasks such as scheduling, vacation requests, and responding to patient record requests.
Second, if you can find ways to automate and outsource certain parts of your practice. Do it. For example, if your office is overwhelmed with patient record requests, check out ePaper Road. ePaper Road is a user-friendly, cost-efficient way to manage your patient record requests promptly while staying in full compliance with all state regulations and laws.
Spend time outside
When you’ve created more space in your day, then you need to take care of yourself. In addition to making sure that you get enough sleep and eat well, you should aim to spend at least 120 minutes outside every week. That’s less than 20 minutes a day. A study published in Scientific Reports earlier this year revealed that people who spend 120 minutes outside every week report higher levels of good health and well-being than those who spend less time outdoors. Your two hours can be cumulative, or you can enjoy the great outdoors for 120 consecutive minutes.
You need to take care of yourself to take care of your patients and your practice. Figure out how to move administrative tasks off your plate and how to take care of yourself to avoid burnout.