According to a 2012 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, almost half of all U.S. doctors experience one or more symptoms of burnout. Whether it’s a locum tenens assignment or a more permanent position, no doctor is immune to physician’s burnout. While locum jobs typically last around 13 weeks, the intensity and stress can still take its toll.
Locum assignments come with many perks, including higher pay, paid housing expenses and the opportunity to travel. However, travel physicians may still experience symptoms of burnout, which include anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, exhaustion and even cynicism. Here are the top 10 ways to avoid physician’s burnout:
1. Find what works for you. Work-life balance is highly individualized and can vary from person to person. What works for you now can also change over time. Physicians should re-evaluate regularly to ensure that a proper work-life balance is found and maintained.
2. A healthy lifestyle. Eating right, exercising and being sure to get enough sleep are key healthy habits for reducing physician’s burnout.
3. Make time for a personal life. While this can be harder to do for a locum tenens doctor who is new to an area, spending time with family or speaking to friends via phone regularly can help. Part of the attraction of the locum lifestyle is to see different parts of the country. Make time to enjoy some of the things your assignment location has to offer.
4. Find time for rest and relaxation. Rest and relaxation at regular intervals is key to avoiding burnout. Take breaks during the workday when possible, and make time for self-care.
5. Identify personal and professional values. What brings joy to your life both at work and outside of your job? Try and find ways to make these elements part of your daily routine.
6. Find time for spirituality. If you are religious or have a spiritual practice, find time to engage in it. Meditation and gratitude can be powerful practices for staying centered. Find and connect with things that give meaning to your life outside of work.
7. Exercise regularly. Enhance your physical health by exercising at least 20 to 30 minutes per day.
8. Get organized at work. Analyze your practice and restructure things in ways that make you feel organized, empowered and set up for success.
9. Find support at work. Develop administrative support systems; seek out and spend time with a mentor (or mentors) regularly.
10. Take vacations. Whenever possible, take extended time off to relax, rejuvenate and come back to work more inspired than ever.
Both locum tenens physicians and traditional physicians should remember that their health is just as important as their patients’. Make each of these tips a habit, and you’ll probably find you’re less stressed and enjoying your work more than ever.