Tips for Dealing with Burn Out

It’s FRIDAY friends!  I didn’t plan on taking a break since Monday but you know, life happens.  With my life it was Chris traveling for work (again) and two tests.  Somethings got to give right?  Which actually leads well into my topic today …


One of the things we have to do as PA students in my program is attend grand rounds at the hospital.  Grand rounds consist of lectures each week on a pertinent topic.  Last week it was on overdose of beta blockers in the ER which I thought was really fascinating.  However, yesterday’s grand rounds couldn’t have been more timely.  Yesterday’s GR was held by a faculty member who is also a licensed marriage and family counselor and he addressed the topic of burn out among health professionals.  I think the topic resonated with me because I have been feeling some of the symptoms of burn out myself lately.  The study he sighted interviewed over 7,000 physicians in the US and nearly half of them experienced signs of burn out in the last 12 months.  Yikes!


What is Burn Out?

We all KNOW what burn out is, but sometimes seeing it written out in words helps bring it home right?  Burn out is the state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion that is caused by excessive and prolonged stress.  It hits anyone, any where, and at any time.


Signs/Symptoms of Burn Out

B\So what are the signs and symptoms of burn out?  They are actually fairly easy to recognize if you take a few minutes for introspection.  Some of the ones he addressed were:

  • Loss of motivation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor productivity
  • Turning to food
  • Depersonalization
  • Loss of feeling of accomplishment


My goodness … so many of these things I can relate to right now in my life!  Why do they think that healthcare providers experience such a high rate of burn out?  It’s because of the culture of medicine.  Healthcare providers tend to hold themselves to a high standard and aim for perfectionism.  They tend to talk “at” people instead of “to”.  They are workaholics and the system is inherently hierarchal.  In fact, the individuals at highest risk for burn out were residents and medical students.  Surprising?  Not to me.  Another important thing he reminded us about was to not only take to recognize these signs in ourselves but to look out for our peers.  In the Army this is called having a “battle buddy”.  I am luck that I have some pretty awesome battles in PA school and that Chris is the first person that recognizes I am on the path towards burn out and helps me refocus.


So my next thought was how do I fix this because I am obviously on the road to burning out and I have a long way to go.  And because you know, you can’t help others if you can’t help yourself and self care is really important.  Since burning out is so not limited to the healthcare profession and ALL of us can relate, I thought I would share some of the tips I learned!





1.  Get enough sleep

2.  Eat a healthy and well balanced diet

3.  Exercise more

4.  Do the things you love

5.  Make time for the people you care about.


Are you enlightened?  Nope.  Me either.  These are all things we know we need to do, but really how often do we actually do them?  I know for a fact I haven’t made nearly as much time for all 5 of those lately.  And I need to do better.  Because those are the things that are going to help keep me sane out staying out of the fetal position.


So my challenge to you this weekend is to make sure you set aside time for these things to help rejuvenate your soul for next week.  I know I will be!


When was the last time you dealt with burn out?  How did you handle it?

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