We physicians know that burnout is an epidemic among physicians. According to the Medscape National Physician Burnout and Suicide Report 2020, 42% of physicians are burned out. According to Dr. Frank John Ninivaggi, “the leading cause is administrative burden driven by workplace and organizational culture.”
This means, that the leading cause of physician burnout is reversible. Unfortunately, many physicians are forced out of medicine due to burnout without having the opportunity to fix this potentially reversible cause. Once a physician leaves clinical medicine for a period of time (2 years) it is nearly impossible to return. And this exacerbates the already severe physician shortage.
So, if you are a physician who is experiencing burnout, before you consider leaving clinical medicine do these three things.
- Get help. This is the most important thing you can do. Reach out to mental health professionals and other physicians. Realize that you are not alone. Just the mere act of talking to someone else about your feelings and what you are going through will make you feel better.
- Do an assessment and develop a plan. Take a thorough assessment of your situation to define what exactly is causing you to be burned out. As stated above, the major causes of burnout are administrative burden and workplace culture. Your burnout may be alleviated by simply finding a way to alleviate the administrative burden you are facing and/or finding a workplace with a more conducive culture. In other words, your burnout may be alleviated by simply finding another job.
- Consider doing locums. Locums is the cure for burnout. By allowing you to work when you want, where you want, how you want, and how much you want, locums gives you control. Furthermore, if you take a locums assignment and you don’t like it for whatever reason, you don’t have to go back.
It is a tragedy that burnout has forced so many physicians out of clinical medicine. I have talked to many physicians who left clinical medicine because they were burned out. However, after they were healed of their burnout, they desired to return to clinical medicine. They realized that they never stopped loving medicine, they just hated the way they were forced to practice medicine.
Don’t let burnout force you out of clinical medicine. Locums is a viable alternative, allowing you to do what you love and to practice medicine on your own terms.
For more information on getting started with locums, download my free locums training video: Getting Started with Locums in Five Easy Steps.