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How to combat burnout in health care

The Mayo Clinic’s new 9-point plan can help clinicians stay engaged and energized on the job.

How to combat burnout in health care

Is your job causing you to feel exhausted, cynical or stressed out?

It shouldn’t be. In fact, it could be a sign that you’re burning out. Mayo Clinic defines professional burnout as “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and value of your work.”

And it’s all too common among health care workers. According to a 2015 Mayo Clinic study, more than half of U.S. physicians experience professional burnout, with frontline health care workers experiencing the highest levels.

That’s why researchers at Mayo Clinic developed a 9-point plan for organizations to remedy burnout in their physicians, but you can apply their formula to help reverse burnout you may be experiencing as an employee. We pulled out the five biggest takeaways from the clinic’s new plan that you can use to stave off the B-word if you’re starting to feel it at work.

1. Discover the problem

The first step to any type of recovery is to acknowledge that you have a problem.

Mayo says, ask yourself: Have you become cynical at work? Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive? Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients? Do you feel disillusioned about your job?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Mayo says you might be experiencing job burnout. See step No. 2.

2. Lean on your leaders

Mayo Clinic says that an organization needs the right leaders in place to prevent employee burnout before it begins. You can use this to your advantage.

If you’re experiencing burnout as an employee, you should discuss this with your manager. Maybe you’ve taken on too much lately, or maybe there’s a work problem you’re having a tough time solving. Your manager may not have the fix right away, but it will almost certainly help to talk it out.

“It is unlikely that your boss is ever going to tell you to work less,” Jené Kapela, president and founder of Jené Kapela Leadership Solutions, a consulting firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, told Monster. “But as long as you know what is expected of you, you can take steps to make sure you accomplish enough work without putting additional pressure on yourself.” Hopefully, your boss will be able to help you craft these goals, too.

3.  Take a break (even if it’s short)

Everyone has stressors at work. You’re no stranger to this as a health care worker. On any given day you may have to deal with the loss of a patient, medical errors or a malpractice lawsuit.

As a health care worker, it’s your job to take care of others, but make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too. For starters, Mayo recommends exercise and sleep.

Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress and can help you get your mind off work, according to Mayo’s website, and sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health. Mayo recommends at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

You could even just ask a co-worker to grab lunch. Mayo found that eating a meal with your colleagues enhances a sense of meaning and helps create a sense of community. In other words, as a medical professional, you know best when you need a break. Even in small doses, a well-timed break can go a long way.

4. Reduce your hours or look into flexibility at work

Is a short break not exactly what the doctor ordered? That’s understandable. Mayo found that physicians are nearly twice as likely to be dissatisfied with work-life integration as U.S. workers in other fields. Maybe you need something a little more long term.

Ever thought about reducing your work hours?

While we understand that it might not be feasible to cut your hours, there are flexible work options you can explore through telemedicine, for example, which allows you to work remotely and could help to improve your work-life balance.

Also, medical professionals are in high-demand, so you may want to consider looking for a job better suited to your particular needs.

5. Remember, your job is more than just a paycheck

Typically, the feeling of burnout stems from a lack of motivation in your work. And rarely does a raise—or other financial incentives—help to fix the problem. That means, you’ll have to find something other than your paycheck to motivate you. To find fulfillment, Simon Sinek, an author, speaker and consultant who writes about leadership and management recommends finding a mentor.

“A lot of people…are looking to maximize the money they make or the benefits the company will provide them, or sometimes they say things like, ‘I want to make an impact,’” Sinek told Monster. “What I want people…to find is a mentor. A career is a journey…and you need someone who will guide and teach you as you go.”