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COVID-19 Could Lead to Dangerous Levels of Physician Burnout — How Can We Change the Culture of Medicine?

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February 25, 2021

Listen to your body and get help when you need it Says Clinical Psychologist Who Treats Health Care Providers

  • About 42% of physicians have reported feeling burned out, and that was before COVID-19
  • Medical school conditions doctors to ignore their body’s signals and keep working
  • It’s important to reconnect with those signals, and to reach out to others for help
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Working to the extreme is a hazard of the medical profession. In January 2020, 42% of physicians surveyed reported feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, otherwise known as burnout. And that was before COVID-19 sent a flood of new patients into medical offices and hospitals.

“After COVID-19, we are afraid that that 42% has increased so rapidly, and burnout will be so high, that people will step back from the medical field altogether,” Dr. Marianna Strongin, licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Strong in Therapy, tells SurvivorNet Connect.

From medical school onward, doctors are taught to ignore the signals their body is sending, no matter how tired or overwhelmed they feel. “If we teach physicians at an early age to put their head down and just ignore every signal and keep working, there’s going to be a breakdown at some point, because those signals no longer work. We no longer hear them,” she says.

Dr. Strongin encourages doctors to start listening to their body, and to each other. “Share with one another how they’re feeling, connect with one another and help one another, so that it doesn’t have to feel so anonymous and alone.”