Physicians are the backbone of the healthcare system and provide invaluable services to their communities. However, many of them experience burnout due to the long hours, high stress, and financial pressures of their profession. Burnout can lead to a decrease in motivation, a lack of job satisfaction, and an overall reduction in the quality of care they provide. Fortunately, a business coach can help physicians reclaim their passion for medicine. Business coaching programs can provide physicians with the skills and support they need to manage their stress, identify their motivations, and develop a plan to increase job satisfaction. Additionally, by helping physicians to recognize their accomplishments and set realistic goals, a business coach can help them to find a renewed sense of purpose in their profession.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by an individual’s sense of being overwhelmed. It can occur in any profession, but it is commonly seen in those that have frequent high-stress situations, such as physicians, teachers, and social workers.
Physician burnout is a growing problem in the United States. A recent study found that 72% of physicians are experiencing burnout and that 54% are at high risk of disengaging from their profession. The degree of risk for burnout varies depending on the physician’s specialty. Still, certain factors are common across all specialties such as:
- work hours
- emotional and physical stress
- lack of social support
- feeling like a cog in a wheel
Physicians face demanding schedules and often work more than 80 hours per week, which can lead to exhaustion, a lack of job satisfaction, and a decrease in the quality of care they provide. In particular, physicians in the fields of surgery, internal medicine, and emergency medicine are most prone to burnout due to the nature of their work. Physicians who work in a hospital setting also face a number of challenges that can lead to burnout, including a lack of control over their schedule, pressure from management to see more patients, and a lack of connection to the community.
What Causes Burnout in Physicians?
There are many factors that can contribute to physician burnout. However, certain challenges are more common in certain specialties. Likewise, certain challenges can increase the risk of burnout for all physicians, regardless of their specialty. Below are some of the more common factors that contribute to physician burnout.
As mentioned above, physicians often work more than 80 hours per week and face unpredictable schedules due to an increase in demand for care and a decrease in the number of full-time physicians. This irregular schedule can cause significant stress, which can lead to burnout.
Emotional and Physical Stress
Physicians face many emotionally and physically stressful situations, including difficult conversations with patients and their families, dealing with death, and maintaining composure in the face of tragedy. Physicians also spend a large amount of their time administering tests and performing procedures that can be both emotionally and physically taxing. The long hours and stressful situations is one of the key causes of burnout.
Lack of Social Support
Physicians are often surrounded by colleagues and patients, but they have very few people they can count on as friends. Physicians have a tendency to put their work first and focus more on providing care than cultivating meaningful relationships outside of work. This lack of social support can lead to feelings of isolation which often impacts the quality of care they provide.
Feeling Like a Cog in a Wheel
Sometimes, physicians feel like their work does not matter in a big-picture sense. They may feel that their efforts are not appreciated by others, or they may feel like their work is not making a meaningful difference. This feeling of being less than important is a fast track to burnout.
How Can a Business Coach Help Reclaim a Physician’s Passion for Medicine?
Burnout can be a serious problem for individual physicians and the healthcare system as a whole. However, which the help and support of a business coach, it is possible to reverse the effects of burnout and for individual physicians to reclaim their passion for their profession.
Business coaches who specialize in the medical field will benefit physicians by helping them to:
- manage their stress
- identify their motivations
- develop a plan to increase job satisfaction
- recognize and celebrate accomplishments
- set realistic goals
How to Choose a Business Coach
Physicians considering business coaching should select a coach who specializes in working with physicians. (Though this may seem obvious, it is often overlooked!) This type of coaching is tailored to meet the specific needs of physicians and can help them to overcome common challenges.
When selecting a business coach we suggest considering the following factors:
Business coaches may have varying availability based on their schedules, so physicians should select a coach they can easily access.
This is so important that we are going to restate it! Business coaching is not a one-size-fits-all approach and there are coaches (like Nancy Brown) who specialize in working with physicians.
Business coaching is all about communication, so physicians should select a coach who they feel comfortable communicating with. Coaches should be able to communicate in an effective and helpful way, whether that is via email, telephone, or in person.
Business coaching is a collaborative process, so physicians should select a coach who values match their own.
The Process of Working with a Business Coach
The coaching process for physicians will differ from that of other clients (in the coach’s portfolio) and should be tailored to meet their specific needs. The following general outline provides an idea of what the coaching process might look like:
Coaches begin the process with an assessment to determine where the physician’s strengths and challenges lie and where coaching can be most effective.
Coaches assist physicians in setting goals that are realistic and achievable and tie them to the physician’s personal and professional goals.
Coaches guide physicians in developing an action plan to achieve their goals, providing them with the tools they need to succeed.
Ongoing Support and Feedback
Coaches provide ongoing support and feedback to help physicians stay on track and make adjustments when necessary.
Burnout is a growing problem among physicians and often leads to a decrease in the quality of care they provide. However, with the help of a business coach who specializes in working with physicians, coaching can be an effective way for physicians to overcome the challenges of burnout and reclaim their passion for medicine.
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