5 Tips to Prevent or Mitigate Physician Burnout

Physician burnout syndrome is a very real and common phenomenon. It impacts a majority of physicians at some point in their careers. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program, offers these tips for preventing or mitigating physician burnout.

Physicians experiencing emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of accomplishment or loss of meaning in their work may be suffering from burnout. The symptoms need to be taken seriously, because burnout can lead to the erosion of professional behavior at work and increase relationship difficulties at home. Burnout is also associated with decreased empathy and compassion and, potentially, worse patient outcomes. Given the multitude of stressors that face physicians in the complicated and often fractured health care system, doctors need to find a way to take care of themselves and watch for signs and symptoms of burnout. The bottom line is that you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. Physicians will often put their own care last on their long to-do list and this causes unpleasant consequences.

Samantha Meltzer-Brody's work on physician burnout made her a Sanders Clinician Scholar. Her recent post on The Health Care Blog discusses burnout. View her tips for preventing or mitigating burnout below.

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, is associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program, UNC Center for Women's Mood Disorders. In 2012, she became one of two School of Medicine faculty members to be named a Sanders Clinician Scholar. Funded by Charles A. Sanders, MD, former chair of the UNC Health Care Board of Directors, Sanders Scholars develop educational efforts to enhance supportive direct personal contact to the daily care of patients. Two years into her appointment, Dr. Meltzer-Brody is treating burnout syndrome, a national problem among residents, through the UNC “Taking Care of Our Own” initiative. The program provides resident education, confidential support, advice, and if needed, appropriate professional referral for individual mental or physical help that meets the resident's needs.

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