The war against physician burnout starts with a strong plan of attack

August 1, 2018

Physicians have numerous allies in this battle, most importantly, their peers. Find strength in their path and their advice.

It is a common refrain I heard at a national internal medicine conference addressing the stress today’s physicians face:

“You can’t yoga your way out of burnout.”

I agree. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are helpful, but more is required to restore the joy of practicing medicine. These are just some of the ways. There are many more.

The fact is, there is no one-size- fits-all answer to an issue as large as physician burnout. As the stressors vary-from time in front of an EHR vs. face-to-face with a patient to battling payers over the best treatment-so do the means to relieve that tension. But that doesn’t mean it is too much to overcome.

Physicians have numerous allies in this battle, most importantly, their peers. Find strength in their path and their advice.

In this issue, you’ll find examples of numerous doctors who are overcoming and/or preventing burnout from interrupting their core mission of treating patients. And we’d be foolish to believe that readers use this as a handbook, following step-by-step the path of another doctor and expecting the same outcome. But, what we believe we’ve provided are sound strategies to piece together the initial path to improving physician wellness and truly restoring the joy of medicine.

And the other thing we hope becomes clear after reading about peers is that it is OK to ask for help. The stigma around physician burnout-that it is “part of the job” or only happens to weaker individuals-is one of the biggest obstacles to improvement.

Ask for help. Ask a peer how they get back to the heart of treating patients without added, and unnecessary, obstacles. Learn from and listen to one another.

Use this issue as a starting point, as a small step toward taking back a little more of each day to help those who truly need you-whether patients or family and friends. Fight back.

Relief could come in the form of opening a direct primary care practice. Perhaps some simple workflow adjustments free up additional time. It might even be reaching out for some peer-to-peer support and guidance. The solutions are out there, and they are numerous.

And yes, you might even consider a little yoga as well.

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