Doctors shoulder a huge responsibility as a stoic pillar of society, working long hours to care for their patients. Behind the scenes though, doctors are more often overwhelmed, drowning in paperwork and struggling to meet increased regulatory requirements.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has recently reported the results of a survey conducted by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) that reveals over fifty percent of doctors have symptoms of stress and burnout. What’s more alarming is that many physicians themselves don’t like to talk about it given the infallible perception doctors have in the community.
As an Australian General Practitioner, how can you diagnose yourself when the signs of burnout begin to appear? And, how can you get help addressing the underlying causes?
Diagnosing GP burnout
GPs will often diagnose burnout in their patients but may turn a blind eye to their own symptoms of stress and burnout. Burnout is simply a state of exhaustion caused by a period of prolonged stress. Symptoms may appear subtle at first but will increase in severity over time.
Burnout manifests itself in three main ways:
1. Physical; Feeling tired and drained most of the time.
2. Behavioural; An increasing need to isolate yourself from others and your responsibilities.
3. Emotional; A feeling of being helpless, trapped and defeated.
How GPs can reduce stress and avoid burnout?
With administrative tasks and regulatory requirements cited as the main cause of prolonged stress, many GPs are choosing to outsource key functions or get consultative help to reduce the burden. Typically, this looks at systems and process to increase operational efficiency, identifying and managing risks to reduce nasty surprises and putting plans in place to achieve the required regulatory compliance.
By getting help with the administrative aspects, the GP can focus on the needs of patients in the clinic with the peace of mind there is no paperwork building up back at the office.
Doctors are human. To reduce the inevitable stress involved in managing a health practice a GP may wish to consider what areas are causing prolonged stress and re-engineer or outsource this aspect of the practice before a more sinister sense of burnout begins.
Want to know more?
Talk to an experienced consultant on strategies for setting up your healthcare business for stress-free success as part of our Clinical Business Consultation Services.