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Burnout is a term that refers to the feeling of exhaustion in a professional atmosphere. WHO calls it an occupational phenomenon. It is a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It can lead to many issues that ultimately cause long-lasting illnesses and leave the person inefficient in carrying out their duties.

Being a physician is a high-stress job, leaving them at a higher risk of burnout. This article delves into the different symptoms of physician burnout and how it is caused.

Symptoms of Physician Burnout

There are a lot of different symptoms different individuals show that results from burnout. However, all of these can be traced back to three cardinal symptoms:

1. Exhaustion

The first sign of burnout is extreme exhaustion. The exhaustion related to burnout is not as simple as the tiredness of a long day’s work. Rather it is a feeling that can come in the way of a physician’s normal functioning. It can lead them to stop working entirely until their feelings change.

2. Emotional Unavailability

Burnout can affect the emotions of the physician. It can create a perpetual sense of being on edge. They can get easily angry and irritated. Their relationship with their peers, patients and family is also affected. They may be more cynical and sarcastic.

3. Decreased Work Efficiency

The result of burnout will often affect how well they do their job. Their physical symptoms can affect their functioning. Mental symptoms can lead to a decreased passion for the profession they once had. It can lead to errors too.

These symptoms are the most common ones seen by physicians. There are also other symptoms like depression, inattention, a variety of mood disorders, and a sense of detachment.

Top Causes of Physician Burnout

There are a lot of different factors that cause burnout. These can be external as well as internal factors. Let us look at some of the causes a physician faces burnout.

The nature of the job

Being a doctor is a very stressful job. You are surrounded by people who depend on you to heal them. You are bombarded with questions. And, in some cases, blamed for situations you had no control over. The job often requires you to put others before yourself. All of this can cause burnout in physicians.

Their specialisation and job role

Physicians have different specialties. One might be more stressful than the other. One might endure long work hours, take overnight hours, and make less money than their colleagues. They could be working under difficult superiors. All of these can stem from the kind of position and specialisation they have taken up.

Poor work/life balance

Physicians may face burnout due to poor work-life balance. They could have long hours and packed schedules that do not leave room for themselves or their family. It could create tensions in their relationships with their family as well. Even as medical students, their education and training could take up their whole life. All of this can cause them to lose out on the joys of life.

Toxic productivity and workaholic culture

One of the major reasons physicians face burnout is the culture that upholds productivity over every other need. Even as medical students, they are trained to put the job and patients before themselves. It creates a sense of validation that comes only from being productive and a workaholic. It gets in the way of addressing their issues and getting physician burnout treatment before caring for others.

Poor workplace management

The environment in which a physician works can significantly affect their stress levels. Having a difficult supervisor and colleagues is an important one. They can create an environment where you struggle rather than find satisfaction in your work. Poor hospital management systems can also affect how workplace loads are managed. It can lead to overcrowding physicians’ schedules and inefficient work being done.

Summing Up

Being a physician is an incredible thing. It gives immense satisfaction and makes a very fulfilling career. However, burnout is a real phenomenon and can affect anybody. Medical practitioners must take account of their mental and physical health and do what is necessary to make their profession more enjoyable.

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