Many healthcare professionals at some point in their life encounter occupational burnout. This condition is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment and is estimated to affect from 30 to 50% of nurse practitioners, physicians, etc. (Bridgeman, Bridgeman, & Barone, 2018). Burnout may lead to poor decision-making, lower levels of compassion and motivation, eventually being harmful not only to specialists themselves but also to their patients and workplaces. This highlights the necessity of developing effective prevention strategies and coping mechanisms to deal with possible triggers.
There is no universal set of recommendations that can be successfully employed by different professionals as each person and situation is unique. Some researchers advise setting boundaries to deal with compassion fatigue (Nolte, Downing, Temane, & Hastings‐Tolsma, 2017). I also believe that it is essential to separate ones professional and personal life. This can mean spending weekends without checking work-related emails (and thinking about job responsibilities) or taking leaves during an illness (Mills, Wand, & Fraser, 2018). Moreover, I would like to be able to recover mentally after encountering a particularly difficult situation. Communication with my family members also helps me to renew my energy levels.
It is extremely important for any medical professional to promote their own mental and physical health. When I am emotionally drained or feel physically unwell, I am less able to provide others with quality care. On the other side, after taking the time to be there for myself, I feel more energetic and compassionate. Therefore, I try to include regular exercise into my schedule and provide my body with quality nutrition, since these are fundamental strategies (Maslach, 2017). As a person prone to anxiety, I also incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques into my life. One of such strategies is meditation, which simultaneously helps me to provide for my spiritual health.
Overall, I am driven by the work I do every day, as it gives me a sense of purpose. However, this occupation is also demanding, and regular exposure to stress makes me more vulnerable to burnout, which eventually can have a negative impact on my motivation and performance. Therefore, a carefully developed self-care plan with specific tools that help me to recharge and prevent these negative outcomes is essential.
Bridgeman, P. J., Bridgeman, M. B., & Barone, J. (2018). Burnout syndrome among healthcare professionals. The Bulletin of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, 75(3), 147-152. Web.
Maslach, C. (2017). Finding solutions to the problem of burnout. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 69(2), 143-152.
Mills, J., Wand, T., & Fraser, J. A. (2018). Exploring the meaning and practice of self-care among palliative care nurses and doctors: a qualitative study. BMC Palliative Care, 17(1), 1-12.
Nolte, A. G., Downing, C., Temane, A., & Hastings‐Tolsma, M. (2017). Compassion fatigue in nurses: A metasynthesis. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 26(23-24), 4364-4378.