Preventing Physician Burnout in the time of Coronavirus

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

stop-physician-burnout-coronovirus-all-power-to-the-shields-opt150W"Circle the wagons"

"All power to the shields"

In times of crisis, these two phrases come in handy as sterling advice for all of us ... especially when you are a physician at the tip of the spear in the response to a global pandemic.

When times get tough, demand peaks and we struggle to keep up with the amplified whirlwind of being a doctor  --  priorities change and lots of things will get crossed off your calendar that used to seem so important before Coronavirus escaped containment. 

My advice?

Cone your focus down to just two points.

1) When you are with your patients, take great care of them and get your charts done.

2) When you are NOT with your patients ... 

  • Grab your team - those you work closest with.
  • Grab your family and loved ones.
  • Look in the mirror and check on how you are holding up

Then circle your wagons and apply all remaining power to the shields (Star Trek style) -- to thank, protect, recharge, feed and nurture - you, your family and your team with any time and energy that is left.

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take-care-of-patients-or-take-care-of-you-binary-stop-physician-burnoutWhen times are tough, this binary choice is the safest option.

Either - Or

  • Either be taking care of your patients
  • Or taking care of you and those closest to you

This is advice I have been giving struggling doctors for years ... especially if your workplace is clueless or hostile to your attempts to lower stress and create some life balance. 

It works too in times of external crisis. This pandemic is only one example.

Circle the wagons and all power to the shields is a strategy for any major, external shock to your life or practice. 

  • Illness in a loved one or yourself.
  • A significant bad outcome that is a source of lasting trauma.
  • An inefficient workplace, hostile culture and clueless leadership.
  • Short staffing or major turnover in your work team or colleagues.
  • Local natural disaster. 

Little Voice Management Keys:

In tough times it is also common for your "little voice" to be quite active. It could be upset, angry, morbid, depressed, overwhelmed, aghast at the volume of work and incompetence of the response. You may even notice guilt popping up when you care for yourself and your family in a free moment. 

Breathe, release that emotion if it does not serve you ... and do the next thing, talk to the next person, take the next step.

And thank you so very much for your hard work and years of dedication.

You are a Light Worker. You make a difference with each patient and with each kind word. 

We all appreciate that ... very much.



How do you care for yourself and your loved ones in tough times like this?


Tags: stop physician burnout