The Importance of Addressing Workplace Stress and Burnout Within the Medical Profession

Life burnout

On a daily basis, workplace stress causes roughly one million employees within the United States to miss work. A recent survey showed that approximately 66% of men and women experience increased stress due to their jobs. Furthermore, one out of every four employees has taken a “mental health day” or called in sick as a result of experiencing stress at work. This is particularly the case within the medical profession.

Depression Rates Among Medical Students

According to a recent study, medical students experience and report a higher rate of depression than the general population. The study showed that this rate was 15% to 30% higher, which is a definite cause for concern. Given that medical school poses a variety of challenges and is competitive by nature, it’s important for medical students and the schools they attend to provide support services accordingly.

Burnout Rates Among Physicians

Currently, the overall burnout rate for physicians within the United States is 35.2%. For those physicians that are 35 years old and younger, however, the burnout rate is 44%. When considering that physicians within this particular age bracket have recently completed medical school, and in some cases, their residency, being burned out following medical school is not surprising. However, for those new physicians that experienced depression while in medical school, this can significantly impact their mental, emotional, and physical health once they are employed in a medical facility. In other words, it can have an adverse affect on their job performance as well as their overall health.

The largest rate of burnout is experienced by emergency room doctors. The January 2017 MedScape Physician Lifestyle Survey showed that these physicians suffer the highest burnout rates among all medical professionals. Given the total number of emergency room physicians that participated in this survey, 59% agreed that they felt burned out.

The Effects Associated With a Poor Work-Life Balance

it’s not surprising that studies show physicians are more dissatisfied with their work-life balance than other individuals within this and other professions. Recent data has revealed that these individuals are nearly twice as likely to be dissatisfied. While this may not be the sole cause for divorce, physicians have a 10% to 20% higher divorce rate than the general public.

How to Handle Anger and Other Issues in the Workplace

Given that hospitals and emergency rooms in particular are usually fast-paced and stressful environments, it’s not surprising that irritation, anger, and other emotions can flare. In order to learn how to handle anger in the workplace, it’s important to remember that the patients need to come first. Furthermore, when determining how to handle anger in the workplace, medical personnel also need to address the anger directed to them by these patients and their family and friends.

While many physicians and other medical personnel express anger due to errors that may or have caused harm to their patients, it can be easier to learn how to handle anger in the workplace as a result. When anger is misplaced, however, it’s essential to engage in active listening and provide counseling when needed. Since anger has the capacity to create a negative environment for patients, staff, and physicians, it makes sense to avoid expressing it until the most appropriate time.

There are a variety of obvious causes for stress and burnout within the medical profession. Many of these can be prevented and/or alleviated, however. Physical exhaustion can oftentimes be addressed with sleep. However, if this exhaustion continues despite receiving the recommended amount of sleep, other interventions, such as time off and counseling, may be beneficial for individuals with stressful jobs.

When someone exhibits emotionally drained symptoms, this could be the result of dealing with the type of traumas associated with emergency room crises. Even though emergency room doctors are trained and intellectually prepared for these types of cases, they can still affect these medical professionals emotionally.

Since it’s vital to provide the care needed by patients and their families, when physicians and other personnel know how to handle anger in the workplace it can make a significant impact. Furthermore, given that there are other causes for concern, such as emotional and physical exhaustion, it’s essential to find proactive ways to handle these and other workplace issues as well.

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