When It Comes To Physician Burnout, You’re Not Alone

It doesn't have to be the "new normal"

By Michael Parker, MD

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When I was in the depth of burnout, I didn’t even know what I was experiencing. With the introduction of our new EHR system I thought things were supposed to get better. Instead, I was spending more time in front of a computer and less time with my patients.

The office became chaotic as I consistently ran behind schedule. Patients were frustrated angry and demanding. Evenings were spent catching up on work instead of having quality time with family. I was physically and mentally exhausted, relationships were suffering and seeing patients became a burden and not a joy.

You don’t have to “suck it up”

I thought this was the “new normal” and needed to suck it up and trudge through. This was a personal deficiency I needed to overcome.

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The first time I heard the term “physician burnout” and learned the symptoms of exhaustion, cynicism and depersonalization, it was like the clouds cleared and the realization came that work was making me sick!

When I mentioned this condition to my colleagues though, they had no clue what I was talking about. I felt alone with no one who understood what I was experiencing.

Have you ever felt this way?

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It’s pluralistic ignorance

I want you to know: You are not alone! Many of your colleagues are feeling the same way. What many of us are feeling is “pluralistic ignorance,” the feeling that we are suffering alone.

But you are not alone. Reach out to a colleague. Start a conversation. We are our best support.