It is essential to remember that neither humans nor doctors are machines. Intellectually and emotionally driven, doctors can succumb to stress and burnout like professionals in any other field. In 2014, over 63% of family physicians were said to experience symptoms of burnout. At KASPAR Practice Management, we see the roots of this problem in how the U.S. healthcare system operates. Because of inherent design flaws, physicians are leaving their practices, overburdened and unhappy.
Already under severe physical and mental strain, physicians suffer from a lack of autonomy and flexibility in how they work. Because of how public hospitals and clinics are structured, they rarely have input on the most crucial decisions—staffing, purchasing equipment, and practice protocols. Burnout among physicians is not to be underestimated or ignored. The risk of medical error, turnover, substance abuse, and suicide increases, the more that work adversely affects one’s quality of life.
Among medical students, residents, and doctors, there is a tendency to develop a so-called “superhero” complex. Often this occurs because of pressures on physicians, and conviction that the fate of their patients rests solely on them. Ultimately, the best counter to a case of heroism is delegation. When physicians and their staffs are able to communicate efficiently, responsibility is divided evenly.
Revisiting an aforementioned phrase, we cannot forget that doctors are biological, as well as psychological creatures. When restful sleep, regular exercise, and extracurriculars fall to the wayside, so does our stamina and our confidence. It is imperative that doctors focus on their health and wellbeing, too. Unfortunately, due to staffing shortages, most offices in the U.S. require that physicians schedule their vacation days three to six months in advance. If doctors can’t get out of the office when work is most stressful, they are liable to burnout all the more.
When stress is most threatening, doctors should remind themselves why they entered the healthcare industry. By identifying their motivators, and rekindling their passions, doctors can immunize themselves against daily fatigues. During moments of self-reflection, it may dawn on them that it’s not their fault—that it’s their environment that is toxic and draining. KASPAR Practice Management was conceived to be a refuge and an inspiration for doctors.