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The Time Is Now
By: Paul Winnington, Editorial Director
Physician burnout is a staggering reality today. While there is some controversy over what the condition is (some argue it’s a form of depression) or how to measure it, there is little doubt that doctors are getting increasingly frustrated with practice, and many are looking for a way out. In fact, studies show a trend toward higher rates of burnout overall and especially among typically “happy” specialties, including dermatology and plastic surgery.
In researching the problem of burnout for our sister publication Practical Dermatology® magazine’s January edition, I spoke with a physician and career coach who takes a decidedly non-fatalistic tack in approaching burnout.
“At its core, burnout is not a problem. It does not match the definition of the word problem,” argues Dike Drummond, MD.
“Problems have solutions. If you apply a solution to a problem, what should happen to the problem? Right, it goes away…This labeling error is the fundamental misunderstanding of burnout that causes most doctors and physician leaders to struggle. The key here is to stop looking for a solution.”
Instead, Dr. Drummond says, conceptualize burnout as a dilemma, “a never-ending balancing act. You can’t solve a dilemma; there is no one thing you can do to make it go away,” he says.
But, “you can manage a dilemma with a strategy. Every physician needs their own personal strategy to lower their stress levels and recharge effectively so that you maintain a positive energy balance. Remember that stress is not always from work.”
To be clear, no one believes that yoga or a little more “me time” is the solution to burnout. In fact, Dr. Drummond says sometimes the solution is a significant change to one’s career. But sometimes, the right combination of small changes can make a difference. In any event, he advises that physicians have a written ideal job description to guide their career plan.
Early into a new year, many of us are still thinking about making changes in our personal and professional lives. Are you taking active steps to address the dilemma of burnout? Do you have plans for significant changes to your practice in the months ahead?
As this edition of Modern Aesthetics® magazine reveals, the field of aesthetic medicine is ripe with innovations and opportunities in the new year. How will they influence you?
If you have an opinion or an experience to share with your peers, let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.