How to cut the stress at your practice
Thursday, August 23, 2018
As a physician, do you find yourself feeling depleted, exhausted, and isolated? You're not alone.
A new Stanford University School of Medicine study found that at physicians' practices worldwide, the emotional and physical impact of managing daily workload is causing doctors more stress than ever. Out of 6,695 doctors surveyed by the researchers, 55 percent reported feeling burnt out.
It's no mystery as to why: long hours, a fear of medical errors, interpersonal issues with colleagues, and the desire to help your patients as much as you possibly can is a lot of pressure.
The good news: there are positive and concrete steps you can take to alleviate your stress, forge stronger bonds with your staff, colleagues and patients, and physically recover so you're refreshed to do your best work. Try these science-based tips to feel better:
Express your thoughts and feelings.
If your practice is going through a rough patch in terms of your employees getting along with each other, you need to clear the air. Call a meeting with your staff and say, "I'm
feeling a lot of stress here in the office right now. I also feel there's a lot of we can do to decrease this stress and be kinder to each other — this can make us more responsive to our patients. Let's talk about what's bothering each of us."
Then let every member of your staff, from your nurse to your office manager to your medical assistants, express what stresses they are individually dealing with. Then, as a group, brainstorm solutions to each of the issues raised--this will foster instant stress relief, and increase collaboration and compassion among your entire staff.
Make a habit of holding these meetings once a week, so problems don't fester or accumulate, and everyone consistently works together.
Don't use your smartphone constantly.
San Francisco State University researchers found that you can actually get addicted to the pings, rings and beeps coming from our phone, not to mention the constant temptation to check email and social media.
Subsequently, the more time you spend on your phone and away from face-to-face interactions, the more you experience feelings like anxiety. Turn off push notifications when seeing patients, (your staff can let you know if there's an emergency) and make an effort to actually talk to your staff and colleagues face to face whenever you can rather than text or email them to feel better.
Block five minutes to record doctors' notes after every patient appointment.
This is instead of doing them at the end of the workday. This will ensure that you're mentally fresh in terms of the details of your interaction and treatment/diagnosis, and reduce any worries about mistakes.
Sleep around 7-9 hours a night.
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara found that if you're sleep-deprived, the network of neurons in your brain that makes you feel your personal space is being invaded gets activated. Therefore, subconsciously, you keep people (like your patients and staff) at arm's length, because you feel less inclined to be friendly.
Rest stops this process and corrects your thinking. Schedule the appropriate amount of sleep the same way you would your appointments, and you'll soon be used to this restful routine.
After that good night's sleep, make a point of leading with a positive attitude.
Enjoy your day: smile warmly as you enter the exam room and laugh at your patients' jokes. Eat lunch with your staff to create more camaraderie.
Let yourself feel the pride and satisfaction of knowing you help people live life for a living! Allowing yourself to see the bright side every day will work wonders for reducing your worries and will give you a fresh outlook.
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