Professional Burnout

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Burnout is real. The highest rates of burnout are experienced by physicians, attorneys and other high-level professionals who share work-related stresses.  Common causes include working long hours (typically 60 to 80 hours a week), being on call 24/7 causing irritability, anxiety and sleep disruption, and taking endless paperwork home to complete.

Combine work-related stress with similar personality traits such as competitiveness, perfectionism, and the drive to succeed, the medical and legal professions attract Type A personalities. What makes them excel leads them to burnout. The resulting burnout leads to strained family relationships, withdrawl or isolation as a coping mechanism, and emotional numbness.

Physicians, attorneys and other professionals pay a hefty price for recognition in their fields.

In the medical profession it’s called PBS, physician burnout syndrome. It impacts nearly half of all physicians. It is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and loss of a sense of accomplishment. It not only affects physicians, but also patient care. Doctors who are sleep deprived are more prone to making mistakes.

There are interventions that help individual physicians cope with the stresses, but some doctors perceive those interventions as bandages on a broken health care system. In large part, it’s the institutions that cause burnout that need to change in order to reduce PBS.

Avoiding or recovering from burnout

But until the organizational culture of our health care systems change, what can physicians do to avoid or recover from burnout? Likewise, what can attorneys or other professionals do to address feelings of burnout, short of leaving the professions they worked long and hard to join?

Even if you can’t change the world, you can regain some control over your life. Contact Saginaw Psychiatry to schedule an appointment and begin changing your life.

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