Physician Burnout - How to Turn the Corner

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

physician-burnout-work-on-your-practice-physician-coach-dike-drummond_optPhysician burnout: How to turn the corner in your life and practice

No matter how exhausted and overworked you may feel right now -- no matter how frustrated with your practice or your out-of-balance life you may be -- there is a way to turn this corner.

Working harder is not the answer though

If you want different results in your life, you must take different actions

What got you here won't get you there

Don't fall into this trap

You can get to a place where you are running so fast - just to keep up with your current reality - that you don't have time to do anything more or anything different. I have heard people say over and over, "I am too busy to even think about doing things differently". 

Here is the key to getting out of this Catch 22, the key to getting out of this mind trap.

You have to find a way to step out of the flow of your life - in order to see things from a more strategic point of view - where the things you want to change can come into sharp focus

This lesson actually came to me from the world of the entrepreneur. 

You see, a person starting a small business can often end up overwhelmed by the details of being a solo entrepreneur. There is so much to do to coordinate your product/service, marketing, accounting and payroll and managing employees. It is a fairly close match for all the balls a physician has to keep up in the air -- and it can get equally unbalanced. 

Entrepreneurs have to learn this mantra sooner or later

"You have to work ON your business  
Not just IN your business"

If you don't find regular time to pull your head up and work ON your business - rather than being trapped IN the activities of your business - your business can become the 800 pound gorilla that eats your life. Working ON your business is the key to maintaining balance and making sure you are always headed in a healthy direction.

Feel familiar? It is exactly the same for physicians

You have to work ON your practice - not just IN your practice

By "work ON your practice" I mean ...
- step away from the EMR or get out of the office
- look at your current results
- decide what you really want instead
- move your practice in that direction

That sounds extremely simple on the surface. The problem is most physicians suffering from burnout are too frazzled to see the simple ways forward. You can get too busy doing what isn't working ... to have the time and energy to pull yourself out of the downward spiral.

If things are not working now ... you simply must find some time to lift your head up and work ON your practice and your life - rather than continue to be stretched to the limit working IN a system that doesn't give you what you really want.

But HOW?

Here three ways to establish this separation from your busy-ness and build a better tomorrow.


1) Journal

Take 30 minutes a couple times a week and journal on your feelings and observations about your practice and work life balance. Notice what is working and what is not. What changes would you make to build a more ideal practice? What is the first step in one of those changes.

Journaling puts you in a reflective state of mind. You can see things from the perspective of your journal that are not visible when you are immersed in the same day to day activities.

Journaling has a drawback though. You have to rely on your own memory and willpower to get it done. There is no one to give you a second opinion, additional creative ideas or hold you accountable.

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2) Retreat

One of the most powerful ways to get a new perspective on your life and plan for change is to take a dedicated retreat for that purpose. This completely removes you from the same old environment and the invisible habits that keep you stuck. 

A retreat is more than a vacation. You are doing more than just recovering and rejuvenating. You are building a plan to take your newly rested self back to a redesigned practice. You have mapped out changes you will make on your return that align your practice with your ideal.

Here's the challenge in taking a retreat. You make your plan when you are outside your practice and you must implement it back in your current daily flow. There's the rub.

Its the same challenge alcoholics face when they come back from a residential treatment center. How do you make it work back in your "normal" environment. The metaphor is much more accurate than any of us are comfortable admitting ... right?


3) Coaching 

If you choose to invest in the support system of a physician coach, your coaching calls become the place where you work ON your practice. Your coach helps you clarify your vision, brainstorm your action plan and keep you accountable for the changes you want to make. You make time for your coaching calls, where you rise above the day-to-day and the two of you work on making things better.

The challenge of coaching is you are planning and implementing while your life is in full swing all around you. You are missing the relaxed reflection of a retreat that can give you the space to get clear with out all the hustle and bustle.


Ideally, you could combine all three ...

- Journaling for awareness
- A retreat to redesign your practice and life
- and coaching for implementation of your new plan

heartofthehealerimage1_optThat is exactly how we designed the Heart of the Healer Physician Wellness Retreat

Four days of rest, rejuvenation, journaling and practice redesign in the paradise of the San Juan Islands. Followed by four months of weekly coaching to help you implement your new action plan. 

Full Details on the Heart of the Healer Retreat here


When would NOW be the right time to get started?

If it's time for you to turn the corner, to end the downward spiral and finally build your ideal practice and a more balanced life ... I encourage you to take on one of the action steps here and get started.

You can begin to step out of the flow your current habits - habits that are not getting you, or your family, what you really want. You really can build a more fulfilling practice and more balanced life. Just remember ... it will take different actions than the ones that got you here.

- Get started journaling

- Call us for a FREE Discovery Session to get clear on your Ideal Practice Description

- Join us for the next Heart of the Healer Retreat to build a full support system for your change


And if you have any questions, use this form to contact me directly.



If you were to make one change in your practice right now, what would that be.

Tags: physician burnout prevention, Physician Burnout, Physician Coaching, Physician Retreat