Beginning to Experience Doctor Burnout? Locum Tenens Is the Solution
Job burnout is job stress taken to a more destructive level. It’s mental, emotional, and physical, combining exhaustion with doubts about competence.
If you recognize the onset of burnout, you can take steps to prevent it from getting bad enough to affect your health. Ask yourself these important questions to determine whether you’re approaching burnout:
• Do you have to drag yourself to the office every day?
• Are you irritable or impatient with co-workers or patients?
• Do you lack sufficient energy to be fully productive?
• Are your sleep and dietary habits off?
• Is it becoming more difficult to find job satisfaction?
Burnout in physicians, physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) is not uncommon. One study found that medical students have rates of depression that are measurably higher than the general population. A 2014 Medscape study reported that 46% of doctors have experienced burnout – a proportion that soars even higher among emergency and critical care physicians. Some consider leaving medicine altogether.
Burnout in the Medical Profession
Burnout among medical professionals is particularly vexing, because it can lower performance and increase the number of medical errors significantly. Doctors in training and those actively practicing medicine are high achievers and can be as demanding of themselves as their job and supervisors are. Doctors are 15 times more likely to burn out than other professionals, and an appreciable percentage of primary care physicians say they would quit if they could afford to. Divorce rates among physicians are 10 to 20% higher than the general population, and up to 400 physicians kill themselves every year.
Phenomena Behind Physician Burnout
Some causes of physician burnout are readily identifiable while others are more subtle. Medical professionals cope with tremendous amounts of stress as well as death. They’re supposed to cure sick people and shepherd families through trying medical situations. Work hours are long, and control over time and schedules is limited. It’s not easy for many doctors to set limits as far as phone calls or random interactions in hospitals and facilities. And face it: medical professionals work in an industry that regularly attracts litigation. The dream of healing and helping can be hard to maintain in the reality of day-to-day work.
One Way to Rebalance and Prevent Burnout
Some doctors see signs of impending burnout and choose to take action to prevent it by working locum tenens. It’s an option that offers better life balance, whatever stage a doctor’s career is in. While doctors working locum tenens expect to work hard, they like knowing that an assignment has a defined “expiration date.” Time between locum tenens assignments can help physicians recharge, recover, and be physically and mentally better prepared for their next assignment. Older, semi-retired physicians like being able to practice medicine without the long and unpredictable hours for months on end, while younger physicians have the opportunity to learn different ways of doing things in different environments.
Other Benefits of Working Locum Tenens
Working locum tenens offers other advantages besides helping avoid burnout. Potential benefits include:
• “Test driving” an assignment before settling down
• More time to devote to family
• An opportunity to moonlight when a physician needs to earn more money
• An opportunity to learn different patient populations and hospital systems
• A way to help people in underserved communities
As with diseases, physician burnout is easier to treat when it’s caught early. Working locum tenens can be a way to avoid burnout, experience different types of medical practice, or even build a different type of medical career. If you’re considering a temporary assignment, All Medical Personnel’s locum tenens team has extensive experience in guiding medical professionals and providing support and answers that help them succeed in this type of endeavor. We encourage you to contact us any time to discuss the opportunities working locum tenens offers.