Tips for Avoiding Burnout as an Emergency Medicine Professional

Tips for Avoiding Burnout as an Emergency Medicine Professional

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Tips for Avoiding Burnout as an Emergency Medicine Professional Burnout among emergency medicine physicians is no secret. Depending on whose statistics you believe, the burnout rate could be as high as 50%. Emergency medicine physicians tend to work long hours in environments that are emotionally charged to the highest degree.

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Published 12 January 2017
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Language English
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Tips for Avoiding Burnout as an Emergency Medicine Professional Burnout among emergency medicine physicians is no secret. Depending on whose statistics you believe, the burnout rate could be as high as 50%. Emergency medicine physicians tend to work long hours in environments that are emotionally charged to the highest degree. It is very easy to burn out if the doctor does not make every effort to avoid doing so.
How does an emergency medicine professional avoid burnout? By changing his or her mindset. In the words of EMS World contributor and 25-year ED veteran Louis Profeta, medicine is "just a job." Dr. Profeta recently wrote of his experience addressing a group of doctors gathered at an industry conference. While there is no need to go into his article in depth, his main point is that doctorsemergency medicine doctors, specificallytend to get burned out because they treat their work as something more important than it is.
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He goes to great lengths to explain that ED doctors are no more heroic than farmers who work long hours or bartenders who must maintain three jobs in order to support their families. In short, it's a great article that should be read by everyone in medicine. If Profeta is correct in his assertion that doctors can avoid burnout by simply changing their attitudes, it implies there are additional things that might be helpful as well: Making Time for Familyare times when the emergency medicine doctor has to turn his/her There back on a busy ER and say, "no, I am going home to my family." Family is where the true passion should be. Family members need a doctor's attention even more than the patients in the ER. Leaving the Emotions at WorkEmergency medicine is, at times, emotionally charged work. There are days when a doctor is so frustrated that he or she is ready to throw it all away and quit. There are other days when he or she just feels like crying. One of the keys to avoiding burnout is to leave those emotions at work when the shift ends. It's not necessary to become so involved with patients that doctors take them home in their minds and hearts. Focusing Only on PatientsDr. Profeta says he hit a nerve when he talked about focusing on patients exclusively. In other words, patients are the entire reason behind practicing medicine. It's not about the doctors; it's not about how they feel or what they need as professionals. One thing Dr. Profeta didn't touch on is practicing emergency medicine as a locum. In light of what he did write, however, we believe it is important to address locum work in wrapping up his post. Avoiding Burnout with Locum Tenens Profeta made some very valid points in both his address to his colleagues and the article he wrote about the experience. Giving him the benefit of the doubt that changing one's attitude can help avoid burnout, we believe that one of the best ways to address an attitude change is to work as a locum tenens physician. Locum tenens work allows emergency medicine doctor to do what he or she loves without the obligations that come with working for a hospital as a permanently employed doctor. It allows for practicing medicine without the accompanying politics. Locum tenens work also tends to open a doctor's eyes to the needs of his or her patients in ways that were never imagined. That's because every new assignment brings a different environment with people who are very different. For many doctors, locum work is a humbling experience that makes a real difference.
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