Insight, Inspiration, Motivation

God, grant me the serenity…

I read the recently reported survey on Medscape, about Burnout amongst Physicians, and the findings are scary! Thirty seven to 53 percent of the physicians who responded, reported burnout! Looking at General Surgeons alone, it was 50%. The scarier part is that this number has risen significantly (almost 15%) from what it was, just 2 years ago.

Looking at some of the reported causes for burnout, I felt I had to make some comments – hence this blog post. The top 5 reasons cited are: too many bureaucratic tasks, too many hours at work, income not high enough, increasing computerization of practice, impact of the affordable care act, and feeling like just a cog in a wheel.

Too many bureaucratic tasks: In this profession, there is a certain amount of ‘mandatory’ bureaucratic tasks. It depends on the kind of hospital you work in, and what positions you hold. The question you have to answer is – which of these is really mandatory, and which ones can you let go of? Ultimately, we each have to prioritize, and decide how to handle these tasks. It is also up to us to say ‘No’ to anything we don’t absolutely have to do.

Too many hours at work: This is something, again, that most of us can decide for ourselves. If you are employed by a hospital, and find the hours too much, then you can decide what you want to do about it. I am sure there are regulations on hours of work, and you may have to negotiate with the hospital, to reduce your hours. For those who work in private practice, it is easier, since many of you can do your own scheduling. Either way, the reason many physicians don’t limit their own hours is that the remuneration does drop, when you work less. Again, it is up to us to decide what is important, and what is the price we pay.

Income not high enough: I wonder how much income is ever “enough”! While there is a huge discrepancy in remuneration from one country or state to the next, within any given geographical area, physicians earn a decent income. It is also true that some physicians live lavish lives. And the most important thing is that we do not get any training on financial management, during our training. It is up to each one of us to acquire the knowledge, or get advice, and learn to manage our own finances. It is no use if you use all your time working to earn more, and then have to spend all of it to either fix your health problems, or pay alimony and child support, or fix whatever other problems arise as a result!

Increasing computerization of practice: Well, like it or not, computers are here to stay! The sooner you get used to the idea, the sooner you can learn to use these computers to your advantage. They do save us a lot of time, and make our work more efficient. We just have to decide not to fill up any time saved, with more work!

Impact of the affordable care act: Living and working in Canada, I am unable to comment on this, because my knowledge of this is minimal. But going by the general principle of trying not to resist what is, and trying to work with the system, can certainly reduce stress.

Feeling like just a cog in a wheel: This speaks to me of low self-esteem. I admit I feel like that at times too, but only if I allow myself to. The truth is that we do have a great deal to offer – and this goes for every human being, not just physicians. If we can understand that every cog in a wheel is indeed important, for the wheel to work efficiently, we can make ‘a cog in a wheel’ feel pretty significant.

So, at the end of the day, I think it is what we tell ourselves, and how we interpret things that really cause the stress, to a great extent. There are things that are within our control, and there are those that aren’t. It is imperative that we recognize the difference, and not play victims of the system.

Which is why, I remembered the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity

To accept things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Please let me know what is your top stress factor, and what you do to manage it!




February 9, 2015 Posted by | Personal Journey, Psychology, Refocus and Thrive, Self Improvement, Stress and Resilience, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


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