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The Time to Be Mindful about Burnout

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by Jennifer N. Clements, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, BCACP | Dec 18, 2018

Since October, I have attended three professional pharmacy meetings – one in South Carolina and two national conferences. Many organizations are incorporating statements about well-being and resilience in their strategic plan or purposefully planning to have educational sessions at upcoming and future conferences. Many institutions have a variety of options and interventions for people to alleviate stress. Overall, there is definitely a buzz about burnout and resilience and is certainly a hot topic among many healthcare professions, as the statistics of depression and suicide have been reported among these medical disciplines, particularly physicians. In general, medicine is a rewarding yet hard profession—anyone would say that there are good and bad days. In addition, I had to think about our role as diabetes educators; I have heard some many people talk about the backlog of referrals to their clinics or the number of overbooks in a day. As the year is ending, I wanted to remind you about the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience

Reflect for a moment:

  • Do you have low physical energy or feel tired most of the time?
  • Do you have low mental energy?
  • Do you miss a lot of work or do not feel productive at the end of the day?
  • Have you become more pessimistic?
  • Have withdrawn yourself from friends and family?
  • Do you feel like you are constantly sick?

These are questions related to symptoms of burnout. According to the National Academy of Medicine, “burnout is a syndrome characteristic by a high degree of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization and a low sense of personal accomplishment at work.” Burnout can lead to poor patient outcomes, inadequate relationships with our clients and individual dissatisfaction, most likely due to multiple factors, such as responsibilities, environment or the culture. While burnout will remain a hot topic for many years, here are seven strategies you should consider for starting off fresh in 2019.

  1. Break a bad habit every month by determining a strategy to overcome the behavior.
    You could reward yourself by replacing the bad habit with a good one. For example, you may tend to schedule appointments during your lunch break due to a back log. Purposefully avoid appointments during the lunch hour so you can maintain well-being with a nutritious meal.

  2. Reflect on your workload and consider re-prioritization to increase productivity at the end of the day.
    Are certain days busier than others? Do certain meetings occur in the morning or afternoon? Rearrange your workload for the day, while considering when you are the most productive.

  3. Plan your day and time efficiently, particularly with meetings around patient care or other clinical responsibilities.
    Try not to schedule more than 50% of your time with meetings, as it will be difficult to come back to direct patient care activities (and it will prevent working from home).

  4. Understand that it is okay to say “NO.”
    Especially if projects do not align with short-term or long-term goals.

  5. Work hard during the fixed time but relax harder.
    Take the time to enjoy hobbies or spend the evening or weekend uninterrupted with family and friends.

  6. Be self-aware and develop strategies for stressors.
    As we tell the people we work with, we will be more successful if we are proactive – rather than reactive.

  7. Delegate responsibilities and tasks to appropriate individuals when possible.
    Depending on your clinical responsibilities, could someone schedule your appointments? Is there another individual who wants to be involved in the group diabetes class? It is okay to let go and let others take responsibility of certain activities.

I wanted this blog to get the conversation started as we know diabetes has a high prevalence among Americans. As diabetes educators, what can we do to prevent burnout across multiple medical disciplines? Do you have any other suggestions or strategy to prevent burnout?


Jennifer Clements

About the Author

Jennifer Clements received her Doctorate of Pharmacy from Campbell University in 2006 and completed a primary care residency at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2007. She is also a certified diabetes educator and board certified in pharmacotherapy. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy.

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