3 Ways to Find Joy in Your Work and Fight Physician Burnout
Written by Abbie Rohr
In order to provide the best care possible to patients, physicians need a healthy work-life balance, which, of course, is hard to do right now. We're passionate about physician resilience and fighting physician burnout. The bottom line is: physician burnout is a system-wide problem anyway, and now, for some the workload is heavier and more trying.
If you're feeling burnt out or having a tough day (or week, or month), try to find joy in your practice by calling one of these three reflections to mind:
“Why did I choose a career in medicine?”
“What positive impact did I have on my patients today?”
“What do I find to be the most rewarding about being a physician?”
We hope that by bringing you the reflections of some of our own contributing physicians and MedStudy users that it will motivate you to keep fighting the good fight!
Prevent Physician Burnout by Remembering Why You Chose a Career in Medicine
Remembering why you initially chose a career in medicine can be a source of motivation
Through these hectic times, it is necessary to reflect on the root of why you chose medicine. Remembering your med school days, or when you started your fascination with medicine will take you back to the essence of why you practice and bring some of the excitement back into your routine.
Some physicians say they “always wanted to be a doctor,” while others had an “Aha! moment” and never looked back. Here are a few of our favorite “why I wanted to become a doctor” stories. Tell us your reasons!
“Growing up I had a friend whose sister had epilepsy. I remember when she would have seizures we were all so afraid and didn’t know how to help her. So, I went to a conference that was all about childhood epilepsy and learning how to help people through medicine. I learned about different technology and she ended up getting this vagal nerve stimulator, which, helped her a lot. It was really inspiring, and I think starting then I knew I wanted to be a doctor.” –Jennifer Swails, MD
“I don’t think I ever had any doubts that Pediatrics was what I wanted to do. As cliché as it sounds, I like kids. I think, more importantly, their energy, their resilience, the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously. They make me not take myself too seriously. Most of it is happy, and even when children are sick, their spirit and incredible resilience is a blessing.” –Paul Catalana, MD, MPH, FAAP
“I idolized Dr. Quinn (medicine woman from a TV show) as a child and always wanted to be her when I grew up.” –Johnna Stevens, MD
Reflect on the Positive Impact You Have on Your Patients’ Lives
Reflecting on the impact that you have on your patients can be a source of joy
Many of the physicians that we talk to say that their patients and the relationships that they build with them is the reason they love what they do. Reflecting on the impact that you have on your patients and the significance that you have in their lives can be a source of joy and help prevent physician burnout. Do you have a patient that you think about on the hard days?
While at our 2018 Pediatrics Review Course in Dallas, we chatted with Jennifer Willis, MD about the rewards of working with patients. She told us one of her patients who ended up dressing up as a doctor in honor of her for Halloween 2 years in a row.
“She wore it twice, last year and the year before to dress up like ‘Dr. Jenny.’ I cried a couple of times when I saw it, so now, on the hard days I think about her.” —Jennifer Willis, MD
“I went and worked at a camp called Camp Burnt Gin that is in South Carolina and they take care of children with chronic medical problems. After spending a whole summer working with kids who were sick and seeing both the hard part of that and the inspiring part of that and seeing the roles we had in their lives and their families lives. That is when I decided that I wanted to apply to medical school.” —Jennifer Swails, MD
Think About What You Find to Be the Most Rewarding Part of Being a Physician
Help fight burnout by thinking about the rewarding parts of your job
In a 2014 study, physicians were asked what they thought the most rewarding aspects of their jobs were. According to the 24,000 answers from physicians in over 25 specialties, the top answers were:
Being good at what I do
Finding answers and diagnoses
Relationships with patients
Knowing that I am making the world a better place.
These top 5 reasons lineup well with reasons we heard from our contributor physicians about what they find to be the most rewarding part of their job.
“This profession is tough, and sometimes we don’t do as well as we ought to at following our own advice and taking care of ourselves. So, I enjoy mentoring and counseling, and there is no better reward than to run into an old student or resident, sometimes even years down the road, and see them succeeding.” —Paul Catalana, MD, MPH, FAAP
“I love working with the patients both in my private practice where I have seen patients for years and also in the hospital where people are so acutely sick and you can really have an impact of their lives if you take good care of them.” —Jennifer Swails, MD
By focusing on why you chose a career in medicine, the impact you have on your patients, and the most rewarding parts of your career, the hard days can be a little easier. Share your reasons for loving medicine with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.