Burn Out Doctor

Have you ever woken up exhausted in the morning, dragged yourself to the clinic and hoped that the working day would soon be over? Do you even describe this as your permanent state? Then your alarm bells should start ringing; because there is a high probability that a burnout is looming.

Petra Wolfram, coach for doctors and executives, lists the typical warning signals from assistant doctors in the event of an impending burnout. It gives valuable tips on what you, as the person affected, can specifically do about it. In the following article you will also find out where you can find an assistant doctor position with a significantly lower workload in order to successfully prevent burnout.

Burn-out among interns is a mass phenomenon

70 percent of young hospital doctors show signs of burnout. This was the result of a study (external link) by the “Professional Association for Health Services and Welfare Care” in 2020. In the course of the Corona crisis and the permanent medical overload, this circumstance should not have developed for the better. Every fifth person has already taken medication due to stress. “It results in certain alarming conditions and shows how widespread the issue of burnout is in this area. Besides, it also coincides with my observations. Often there is an attempt to ignore the topic and to ignore it,” says Ms. Wolfram soberly.

Doctors coach Wolfram sees the reasons for the widespread spread of burnout among interns in the structural and organizational framework of hospital work: “Interns are often exposed to permanent pressure, high workloads or increased workload and special challenges from the economic interests of the clinic management. Long working hours and shift work also lead to a high level of stress. The boundaries between work and private life are blurring, so that some no longer even know what relaxation or leisure feels like.”

Doctors’ warning signs of burnout

Our body sends warning signals in good time as soon as it has exceeded its limits for a corresponding period of time. “First of all, there are small warning signs, such as not feeling rested in the morning after sleeping or having problems concentrating for the first time. Frequent irritation is also part of it,” says Ms. Wolfram, summarizing the early signs. But paradoxically, doctors seem to overlook or disregard the harbingers of an impending burnout.

“If the person concerned does not react, typical symptoms such as chronic fatigue, decreased performance, permanent exhaustion, motivation problems, increasing memory weakness and sleep disorders”, stress management expert Wolfram describes the further development. “At this stage, the conditions and symptoms usually signify various health restriction.“ It is usually not far to complete exhaustion.

What you can do as an assistant doctor against burnout

Ms. Wolfram advises resident doctors to pause at the first signals of a possible burnout and to be careful with themselves: “Important questions that support the process are: How can I recover? What can I do to charge my battery? In which areas can I reduce stress ? What can i change? ”In addition,“ relaxing breaks, an active approach to one’s own health and regular exercise as a balance” are recommended .

But what should you do if you, as an assistant doctor, suffer acute burnout or are already on sick leave? In this case, too, doctor coach Wolfram recommends “actively using the time off sick leave”. It is not only important to get well again, but also to find the causes of the burnout with doctors. “It is important to reflect on yourself and see: When is it too much? What signals does my body send me? What helps me to relax?”, She describes the next steps. “It’s about identifying the energy guzzlers.“ At the same time, you should find out what you can change in the future and which routines give you relaxation in everyday life.

Support for interns

Professional coaching can support you in this phase. Ms. Wolfram describes the cooperation between the assistant doctor and the coach as follows: “ The personal stress factors and an awareness of the body’s first signals regarding stress are worked out together. Personal handling of stress and stress resilience are also addressed in the coaching. ”

Together you develop strategies to cope with exhaustion. In this way, interns can learn to deal constructively with possible causes and to develop new potential. The goal of coaching is to protect yourself against burnout over the long term.

New job, new hope

According to stress management expert Wolfram, a possible way of life as a means against burnout does not necessarily only take place internally. “In the cause analysis mentioned, it is also important to check: Does the current position correspond to my goals and values? Do I currently enjoy my work? Am i happy with that? In answering these questions, I advise you to take your time, to listen or see inside yourself and to take a close look at the current status. Of course, one option may be to change jobs to reduce the stress, feel more comfortable, and have more fun going to work.”

In your considerations, you should not allow yourself to be influenced by supposedly good advice from some colleagues. Homicide arguments such as “that’s the way it is” or “it’s not better anywhere else” can have fatal consequences: They stabilize the system of common suffering and create the impression that everything has to be endured. But believe me: no, it is not that bad in every clinic. We know enough hospitals that offer doctors good working conditions – where you can work as an assistant doctor in a hospital without overtime and 24-hour work, but with regular working hours.

Regardless of the specific causes, one thing is clear: Burn-out only develops in hospital doctors whose work-life balance is unstable. Therefore, when choosing your hospital, pay attention to innovative working time models for doctors. Switching to a part-time position as an assistant doctor may also be a promising option. You can even do your specialist part-time without any problems and thus provide yourself with enough freedom to recuperate over the long term.

Together against burnout

Now, it is your turn: do you take a break and listen to yourself for your own health and wellness? Where are you now? We all do well to be more mindful of ourselves. This is especially true for clinic doctors, who are naturally exposed to considerable pressure.