August 28, 2020
Trying to remain stoic and strong in the face of adversity can lead to burnout
- More than half of physicians have struggled to maintain a healthy work-life balance
- There is a reluctance to address mental health in this profession, because of the stigma surrounding the topic
- Periodically stepping away from your practice and letting a covering physician take over can help you avoid burnout
More than half of physicians surveyed say they’ve struggled to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. UCSF Health hematologist-oncologist, Dr. Nina Shah, tells SurvivorNet Connect she’s witnessed burnout firsthand among her own colleagues. “I think we really have to address that. We can’t ignore it,” she says.
Admitting there is a problem can be difficult in a profession that puts so much emphasis on hard work and resilience. “I think the mental health of physicians is something that we don’t talk about because we traditionally pride ourselves on being stoic and strong,” Dr. Shah says. “But the reality is, we’re all human.”
To prevent the burnout that can come from repeating the same processes, day after day, unplug from your practice from time to time. Let a covering physician take over, and go on vacation. It’s important to step away completely, setting aside even emails for a few days. Know that your patients will understand, and they will be there when you return.