Physician burnout is prevalent among doctors in the US. According to Medscape’s 2020 National Physicians Burnout & Depression Report, more than 40% of physicians are burned out, but doctors in some specialties—and generations—are suffering more than others.
In this Q&A blog post interview, you will know Dr. Errin Weisman’s thoughts on physician burnout, how she’s dealing with physician burnout, and some tips/strategies based from her experiences. Are you part of the 40% of doctors experiencing physician burnout? This blog post might be helpful for you!
As an Advocate of Physician Burnout
1. What made you develop interest in becoming an advocate of physician burnout? What motivated you?
- Like many female physicians, I faced burnout early in my career. All the signs and symptoms of burnout were there – I was exhausted, short-tempered and thinking about quitting medicine altogether. It took me way too long to actually do about it because on top of everything else, I felt alone.
- But get this, I wasn’t alone. The numbers are staggering. Almost 40% of female physicians go part-time or leave medicine within six years of completing residency. So I built my coaching practice because no one should ever face burnout and if they do, they don’t have to go through it alone.
Causes of Physician Burnout
2. From your perspective, what do you think are the primary causes of physician burnout?
- Burnout is both systemic and individual, which is why it’s so hard to combat. It’s systemic because there’s a toxic culture in medicine that asks doctors to push themselves past their limits. It’s also individual because that culture affects each person in different ways. Some physicians notice right off the bat that it’s not working for them, but some may thrive for a few months or years before looking back and realizing how the medical system has changed them.
- The way medicine is traditionally practiced tends to take someone’s superpowers and abuse it until it’s kryptonite. For example, I’m a high-achiever and have always been competitive. That’s great in sports and it’s what has made me successful as an entrepreneur, but when I was in an environment that told me I had to ignore my own needs or my family’s needs in order to do well, that same competitiveness led to a lot of unhappiness.
- For someone else it might be their compassion or perfectionism that gets stretched and pulled until it’s no longer useful. The details are individual, but it all leads to the same sucky outcome.
Dealing with Physician Burnout
3. How did you deal with physician burnout early in your family medicine career? Tell us about your coping mechanisms. How did you manage to have work-life balance?
- First and foremost: Rest and Recovery! I was so used to grinding through challenges that I thought I could just grind through burnout. Wrong, womp womp. I needed to take a step back, realize things weren’t working and give myself permission to stop grinding my gears.
- Sometimes we get so caught up in looking for solutions that we forget to look for clarity. My husband was great at supporting me on this one. He asked me to hold off on a decision for six months. It’s advice I give to my coaching clients to this day: decide not to decide. Let your brain have some time to decompress. Change comes after that.
4. Favorite quote
- “The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”
Resources for Physician Burnout
5. Could you share your favorite resources that could help manage physician burnout?
- I couldn’t find one so I made one! The Doctor Me First ebook has all the resources I needed when I was going through burnout, plus everything I learned over six years of coaching other physicians into careers and lives they love.
6. For physicians who are looking for great resources on physician burnout – What is the best way for them to get in touch with you?
- They can listen to my podcast, Doctor Me First, and send me a message on LinkedIn.
Errin Weisman, DO is a life coach, speaker and fierce advocate for wellness in medicine. She faced professional burnout early in her career and speaks openly about her story in order to help female physicians and working moms know that they are not alone. She lives and practices in rural Southwestern Indiana, loves her roles as farmer’s wife, athlete and mother of three. You can find out more about Dr. Weisman by listening to her podcast “Doctor Me First” or hang out with her on Instagram @truthrxs.
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