As businesses reopen and vaccines continue to roll out, life is returning to normal for many folks. But for doctors who are downshifting from the incredible strain of the pandemic, "normal" still means long hours, high levels of stress, and juggling multiple responsibilities with patients, staff, and their families.
It's essential that our most essential workers take stock of their personal and professional obligations to fight burnout. These three strategies can help doctors continue doing work that improves ROL for themselves and their communities.
1. Consider a more flexible work schedule.
If you're in charge of your own practice, don't forget that being the boss has its advantages. It might be time to think about scaling back your hours or hiring additional doctors and support staff. Doctors who haven't branched out on their own yet might consider joining a physicians group that practices telemedicine, or looking for openings in smaller offices and hospitals where the workload might not be quite so stressful. Locum tenens work is another popular option for doctors who want to focus on caring for patients without having to deal with managing overhead.
2. Develop hobbies outside of work.
During the height of the pandemic, many doctors were so overworked that they lost their work-life balance. Take some advice that you've probably given to thousands of patients over the years and find that balance again. Dusting off your golf clubs or training for the next edition of that marathon you missed will rejuvenate your mind and your body and give you something to look forward to when the next overtime shift rolls around.
You can also recharge your batteries by putting your medical expertise to good use in another setting. Teaching positions, volunteering, and mentorships might help to put you back in touch with why you wanted to become a doctor in the first place. Helping other medical pros with a different set of challenges might spark some new ideas that you'll use to improve your own practice or connect you to a new talent pool you'll look to draw from in the future.
3. Discuss organizational challenges and solutions with colleagues.
One of the unique challenges of a doctor's job is finding ways to do the most good while navigating our complex health care system. Some doctors attribute burnout to feeling like "the system" demands too much work from them while also making it too hard to give patients the level of care that they need.
Rather than struggle against the constraints placed on you by insurance companies, regulations, and administrative policies, try to identify things about your job that you do control, and can improve. Talk to your colleagues and staff about your work environment. Are there legacy best practices that need to catch up with your latest digital upgrades? Do you need to do a better job of staggering vacations and off days? Could you schedule appointments or prescribe medications more efficiently? Are you understaffed? Could you make any quality-of-life upgrades to office equipment or furniture? Do you need to think about replacing a longtime employee who's just not cutting it anymore and dragging down morale? As a leader of the organization, are you being attentive to how nurses and support staff are feeling? Are you communicating in a way that's going to inspire everyone to do their best work?
We have so much respect and admiration for the incredible work that doctors and other health care professionals performed during the pandemic. Now, let us help you. Schedule an appointment to see how our Life-Centered Planning process can transform your perspective on your money, your career, and your life.