Breaking News
March 24, 2018 - Men have greater hospital readmission risk following firearm injury, study shows
March 24, 2018 - Pediatric psychologist shares 11 warning signs of childhood depression
March 24, 2018 - OncoBreak: ‘I Was Normal Once’; Ending Cervical Cancer; Mammo Controversy
March 24, 2018 - Gum Disease by the Numbers
March 24, 2018 - Studies show tool can identify individual needs, supports to help youths with autism, intellectual disabilities
March 24, 2018 - Study reveals cause of extreme nausea in pregnancy
March 24, 2018 - New findings highlight need to reconsider cervical cancer screening guidelines
March 24, 2018 - Smartwatch App Might Help Detect A-Fib
March 24, 2018 - TAVR Reasonable for Low-Flow, Low-Gradient Aortic Stenosis
March 24, 2018 - Kids with severe brain injuries may develop ADHD: study
March 24, 2018 - Researchers explore ways to help older adults taper off and stop using sedatives
March 24, 2018 - Back pain being mismanaged globally
March 24, 2018 - Fingerprint test accurately and noninvasively detects heroin, cocaine users
March 24, 2018 - Leading experts to promote cardiovascular health at EuroPrevent 2018
March 24, 2018 - A Role for Rituximab in Lupus?
March 24, 2018 - New osteoarthritis genes discovered
March 24, 2018 - Maternal intake of DHA supplement linked to higher fat-free body mass in children
March 24, 2018 - Royal College of Pathologists‘ bulletin provides summary of Tissue Handling Workshop
March 24, 2018 - Maternal alcohol use early in pregnancy may be risk factor for infant abdominal malformation
March 24, 2018 - Savara Initiates Phase 2a Clinical Study of Molgradex for the Treatment of NTM Lung Infection
March 24, 2018 - Accelerated WBI Should be the Norm for Most Breast Cancers
March 24, 2018 - Experts seek to standardize treatments for childhood rheumatic diseases
March 24, 2018 - Foil-based measuring chip rapidly detects Legionella
March 24, 2018 - Bariatric surgery linked to positive outcomes in very obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes
March 24, 2018 - Are there risks from secondhand marijuana smoke? Early science says yes.
March 24, 2018 - NUST MISIS researchers produce elastic metal rods for scoliosis treatment
March 24, 2018 - New University of Bath project seeks to make injections safer
March 24, 2018 - Higher-dose RT does not improve survival but reduces recurrence risk for prostate cancer patients
March 24, 2018 - Researchers examine link between knee pain and depression in older adults
March 24, 2018 - FDA Alert: BD Vacutainer Blood Collection Tubes by Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD): Class I Recall
March 24, 2018 - Daytime Sleepiness Linked to Amyloid Accumulation Without Dementia
March 24, 2018 - Energy storehouses in the brain may be source of Alzheimer’s, targets of new therapy
March 24, 2018 - Praising people with autism shows promise for producing more exercise
March 24, 2018 - Using harmless red or infrared light to diagnose breast cancer
March 24, 2018 - Clash over abortion hobbles a health bill. Again. Here’s how.
March 23, 2018 - Virtual nature environment could be new way to recover from stress
March 23, 2018 - New study identifies key cellular mechanisms behind vascular aging in mice
March 23, 2018 - Nightmares Common Among U.S. Troops, But Seldom Reported
March 23, 2018 - Another Record Low for Tuberculosis in U.S.
March 23, 2018 - Changes in the eye connected to a decline in memory
March 23, 2018 - Radiologist creates dramatic teaching tool using power of VR
March 23, 2018 - Grilled meat could be raising the risk of hypertension finds study
March 23, 2018 - Mutations found in bassoon gene may help explain cause of rare brain disorder
March 23, 2018 - Childhood Brain Injuries May be Linked to ADHD Years Later
March 23, 2018 - Why treating addiction with medication should be carefully considered
March 23, 2018 - Researchers make key discovery about cellular pathway linked to myriad of diseases
March 23, 2018 - Researchers uncover cause of rare childhood neurodegenerative disease
March 23, 2018 - Measles infection in early childhood could contribute to later COPD
March 23, 2018 - Opioid painkiller is top prescription in 11 states
March 23, 2018 - Sienna Biopharmaceuticals Announces First Patient Dosed In Proof-of-Concept Trial of Topical By Design™ JAK Inhibitor SNA-125 for Atopic Dermatitis
March 23, 2018 - In Teen Girls, Neural Patterns May Drive Emotional Resilience
March 23, 2018 - Gene-based test for urine detects, monitors bladder cancer
March 23, 2018 - BD to introduce new digital solution for IV chemotherapy administration process at EAHP 2018
March 23, 2018 - New computational method helps to identify tumor cell mutations with greater accuracy
March 23, 2018 - Researchers identify potential obesity treatment in freezing hunger-signaling nerve
March 23, 2018 - Wales participates in the 100,000 Genomes Project
March 23, 2018 - 24-Hr Paging Cuts ED Visits for Kids with Endocrine Issues
March 23, 2018 - The brain learns completely differently than we’ve assumed since the 20th century
March 23, 2018 - Less nutritious diet mainly contributes to Type 2 diabetes among U.S.-based South Asians
March 23, 2018 - Stony Brook Medicine expert provides tips for healthy diet to decrease cancer risk
March 23, 2018 - New findings could have revolutionary impact on quality of life of older people
March 23, 2018 - Restoring enzyme may help reverse effects of vascular aging, study shows
March 23, 2018 - Protein profiling reveals new prostate cancer mechanisms
March 23, 2018 - Depression may be linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation
March 23, 2018 - FDA Takes Aim at Flavored Tobacco
March 23, 2018 - SMART Strategy Lowers Asthma Exacerbation Risk
March 23, 2018 - Cold open water plunge provides instant pain relief
March 23, 2018 - Portable and wearable technology supports future of military medical devices
March 23, 2018 - Patients with vascular malformations have poor health-related quality of life
March 23, 2018 - Researchers develop unique technology to overcome global antibiotic resistance crisis
March 23, 2018 - New DOD grant to support testing of promising therapy for triple-negative breast cancer
March 23, 2018 - Novel vaccine technologies can help better prepare for future infectious disease threats
March 23, 2018 - OncoBreak: Colonoscopy TV; Coverage for Genomic Testing; Care for Caregivers
March 23, 2018 - For some surgeries, nerve blocks mean better outcomes, fewer opioids
March 23, 2018 - Maternal obesity and androgen excess induce sex-specific anxiety in offspring, study suggests
March 23, 2018 - The tale of Theranos and the mysterious fire alarm
March 23, 2018 - USC researchers create algorithm to optimize substance abuse intervention groups
March 23, 2018 - Impulsivity may be associated with greater weight loss during treatment in obese children
March 23, 2018 - CTI BioPharma Announces Publication of Pacritinib Phase 3 PERSIST-2 Clinical Trial in JAMA Oncology
March 23, 2018 - Senate Panel Addresses Native Americans’ Opioid Troubles
How Can Physicians Stay Sane?

How Can Physicians Stay Sane?

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

These are tumultuous times for practicing physicians. The healthcare landscape is changing at a breathtaking pace, and less and less of our time is spent doing what we were actually trained to do: taking care of patients. I absolutely love the patient-care part of my job, do everything possible to always remember why I went to medical school in the first place, and maintain focus on the aspects of my work that bring me the most personal satisfaction.

Here are my 10 rules for front-line physician sanity:

1. Clearly separate clinical from bureaucratic work. As more of our day is being spent on tick box and administrative duties, try to have a clear separation between the direct clinical work, when you are on show to the world and practicing your true art, and when you are performing those mind-numbing bureaucratic tasks. Also, don’t be afraid to tell any administrator (politely and diplomatically, of course) to email you with any issues, but not to call or page you while you are seeing patients.

2. Try to spend as much time as possible with patients. Have an acute awareness of the time you are spending at your screen during the day. For most physicians, every extra minute will greatly increase the chances of burnout and professional misery. Try to view the computer as the tool it’s supposed to be (and in an ideal world should be) — not as the main focus of your whole job as a doctor. Check out my article about how I do this, so I can actually spend more of my day doing what I love.

3. Work out the computer shortcuts. Following on from the above point, every computer system will have its own unique quirks and shortcuts, that can significantly speed up your workflow. Spend time familiarizing yourself with these and document the minimum amount necessary for good clinical care and other necessary bureaucratic requirements.

4. Take regular breaks. Doctors are humans after all. The long hours are grueling, and due to the unpredictable nature of medicine, doctors are nearly always running behind. Before you know it, your lunch break should have been 3 hours ago. Be strict with yourself about taking regular breaks, even if they are very short and involve you just closing your eyes and deep breathing (mindfulness exercise). Clear your mind at every opportunity. Also, remember to eat regular healthy snacks during your day.

5. Make friends with those you work with. Any job is a whole lot better if you get to know, and ideally befriend, those around you. And that doesn’t mean just your immediate colleagues. It means the nursing, kitchen, and even house staff. People you encounter every day. Have you been working with someone for an awfully long time and have no clue whether they have children, holiday abroad, or own a dog? Get chatting to them.

6. Empower yourself to improve the system. Change happens one small step at a time. There are undoubtedly countless ways that the system you work in can be made better. Have you noticed a glitch in a process, a problem with patient care, or a glaring safety gap? Then give feedback! Whether or not anything immediately changes, your job is a lot more meaningful if you invest yourself in your workplace.

7. Take everyday frustrations in stride. There isn’t a healthcare system in the world that is perfect. All western countries are struggling with the need to control escalating costs and manage chronic disease — all against the backdrop of expensive new treatments and aging populations. You cannot avoid daily frustrations. While they may occasionally get you down, if they are repeating themselves each and every day, is there a better way you can handle them? Another technique is to always come back and make everything about your patient: the zone where it’s all about you helping someone (probably why you first went to medical school).

8. Try to be as on-schedule as possible. The reality of medicine is that you can spend 24 hours a day caring for patients, and there will still be more to do. For doctors’ own well-being, it’s important to try to be as organized and strict with time as possible. That doesn’t mean you should cut people off or be in a visible state of hurry. It just means you desire a good work-life balance and will structure your day around trying to finish at a reasonable time.

9. Have some great hobbies and lead a healthy lifestyle outside. Away from the workplace, and even away from family, have something that truly relaxes you and gets you away from it all. It could be hiking, golfing, or boating. It could even be something else you’ve always wanted to do like swing dancing or martial arts (even better if it involves learning something new). It also goes without saying that for peak mental health, you should always strive for great physical health. So eat healthy foods and get plenty of exercise! Moreover, as a doctor, what could be better than being a role model for your patients in this regard?

10. Always have a long-term plan. It’s no secret there’s an epidemic of physician burnout and job dissatisfaction out there; that’s directly linked to the monumental loss of control and autonomy in our profession. I’ve found my own way to maintain my great love of medical practice and seeing patients, while also having other creative endeavors going on. If you’re completely happy in clinical practice, then great! If you aren’t though … hopefully, your intention isn’t to leave completely, but whatever your long-term goal is: always be taking small steps to it every day.

Suneel Dhand is an internal medicine physician and author. He is the founder of DocSpeak Communications and co-founder of DocsDox. He blogs at Suneel Dhand.

This post originally appeared on KevinMD.


Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles