1 hour ago
i would like to gently touch on the topic of burnout, a phenomenon that has been plaguing medical students and physicians for decades. physician burnout is defined as “a long-term stress reaction marked by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment” by the agency for healthcare research and quality.
for some, burnout starts with an acute stress response. “i have a histology exam next week and i feel so underprepared.” you put everything in your life aside, except for your textbook and computer, and eat-sleep-breathe histology — all you want is to do your best. some time later, it becomes almost “routine” to put everything aside except your study tools to keep you focused on that one goal. those things you put aside though — that one hour at the gym to de-stress, that 15 minute phone call to your mom to catch up, that short power nap — those are “mental medications” that you’re not taking. without them and the balance they allow you to maintain, you could become sick. in fact, very sick — depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation. and at the cost of what? the difference between an “honors” and a “pass?” is all that sacrifice, hardship, and resultant sequelae worth it to you? no. it should never be.
you cannot expect yourself to take care of patients if your own physical, mental, and emotional needs are not taken care of. we need to start practicing the healthy habits regularly that we preach to our patients. just because we understand the biological and psychological etiologies of burnout does not mean that we are invincible to it. remember, your goal is to be an excellent physician that your patients can look up to. please remember to prevent and/or treat early. go to the gym, call your mom, take a nap. you will never regret those decisions — you would only regret not making them.