Strategies for Reducing Stress and Preventing Burnout

Delivering high-quality patient care has become increasingly complicated in today’s hectic world. In addition to caring for patients, physicians must run an office and ensure that they and their staff members are keeping up with the rapidly changing health care industry.

It’s no surprise that 86% of US doctors are moderately to severely stressed or burned out on an average day, as reported by a 2011 survey conducted by Physician Wellness Services and Cejka Search.

Although physicians frequently encourage patients to reduce stress to control certain medical conditions, many physicians themselves sometimes ignore their own work-related stress. Steven Peltz, a health care business consultant based in Brewster, NY, and a member of the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants, encourages physicians to implement the following strategies to reduce stress and prevent burnout.

Delegate Duties
Peltz recommends that physicians embrace delegation. “Before health care became very complicated, physicians didn’t have to delegate—they made decisions based on what they knew,” Peltz says. “Now, most physicians need to have someone who knows information technology and someone who knows the difference between an accountable care organization, a physician hospital organization, and an independent physician association. It’s become very difficult to manage that and go into the exam room and treat a patient.”

Hire Outside Help
Physicians who want to spend more time with patients may wish to outsource some of their financial and operations-related tasks to a business consultant. Similarly, hiring an information technology firm to manage the practice’s telecommunications and electronic health records can help free up a busy doctor’s schedule.

Make Time for Yourself
Peltz admits that it can be difficult to convince physicians that they need down time. He encourages doctors to engage in a restorative activity, such as reading or exercising. Simply spending time with those who understand everyday challenges can help some clinicians decompress.