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Burnout in healthcare

Part 1: Unpacking Burnout in Health Practitioners: Identifying the Unique Signs

Burnout is a common metaphor for a state of extreme psychophysical exhaustion, usually work-related. 

Health professionals aren’t immune to burnout and its impact. In fact, burnout has become an epidemic in the integrative and allied healthcare professions. Practitioner schedules, regulations, and professional school debt load all play a part in the external factors that negatively impact our joy in this lifetime as clinicians. When left untreated, stress and burnout can take a toll on our careers and our enjoyment of our lives. 

As a practitioner performing initial intakes with patients, you are likely incredibly used to asking your patients about their own stress and possible symptoms of burnout. But what about yours?

As experts in healthcare, we can easily detect burnout in our patients.

Burnout for non-healthcare workers looks like:

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation in their job
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nervous system dysregulation
  • Digestive disturbances and intestinal permeability issues
  • Blood sugar dysregulation 
  • And more…

But what does burnout look like from the outside for a health practitioner? Below is what we are seeing firsthand in practitioners we speak to daily at Ginger Desk.

Burnout can look like any of the following signs:

  • Leaving one-on-one primary care or manual treatment to solely teach, build a course, launch a group program
  • Leaving license behind to become a health coach or other unlicensed practitioner
  • Leaving the profession post-parental leave
  • No longer accepting new patients
  • “Cannot” take a vacation
  • “Cannot” call in sick
  • Bored or frustrated with patient care
  • Voicing stress in practitioner-based FB groups
  • Calling out the profession as cause of personal financial position
  • Feeling like victim due to lack of scope of practice
  • Associate/Clinic Owner duels
  • Feeling trapped in the profession due to time and money invested
  • Lost the spark for practice

More than 50% of health practitioners in North America report being burnt out in their careers.
Dr. Lara Salyer is one of our favorite experts whose life’s work relieves burnout for functional medical practitioners. Dr. Salyer’s repeated message explains how creativity and finding one’s flow, can resolve and heal burnout forever. Dr. Salyer’s research into burnout has been instrumental to resolve burnout across the health professions. We have learned so much from Dr. Salyer over the years and love her holistic approach to understanding practitioner burnout.

What Dr. Salyer has found is that “when you tease apart the research, we can’t blame burnout on one thing (like electronic medical records). Interventions like Leadership Training have shown drastic benefits to improving burnout compared to other measures.”

While a lot of practitioners thought the addition of an EMR to their practice would be the answer to their stress levels, studies show that there is now more work than ever for clinicians who practice in a digital world.

So what is the solution? What has been found to be most effective for practitioners to reduce burnout and to heal stress once and for all? First, here is what isn’t. It isn’t a new app or digital system, it isn’t another supplement you can take, and it isn’t the practitioners’ rate of resilience. 
What’s been shown to be most effective at curbing and modifying burnout in healthcare practitioners, is actually a sense of “self-efficacy”.

The answer to burnout is different from what practitioners have long believed until now. Practitioners haven’t been getting to the root cause of their own burnout because they didn’t know where to look for solutions and treatment.

We will be discussing what self-efficacy means and how you can boost your own sense of self-efficacy in our next blog post: Burnout in Health Practitioners Part 2: Finding the Breakthrough. Stay tuned.

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