Personal Issues That Could Cause Residency Burnouts

Personal Issues That Could Cause Residency Burnouts

Sep 22, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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If you’re feeling stressed and burdened with the responsibilities that come with your residency, you are not alone. Resident doctors face myriads of challenges in their practice, patient care, and work-life balance. It can be particularly difficult if new doctors also face personal struggles on top of their professional work resulting to burn out and lack of enthusiasm.

More time needed for patient interaction

On average, the Annals of Internal Medicine research showed doctors only get to interact 27 percent of their time with patients while 50 percent of it is consumed on documentation and other desk work per day. This imbalance could place added stress on physicians who’d want to dwell more on how to go about with their patient’s care.

This burden might be alleviated when work processes are streamlined while sharing some of these responsibilities to mid-level staff. It would also help to change the working environment to improve direct patient care and healthcare resolutions.

Starting a family

Or if you have one, you understand how difficult it is to spend quality time with your spouse and kids. It’s a struggle for most resident doctors to find time to commit to family and clinical work. Whether having a child is planned or a ‘surprise’, medical training could get in the way. Starting a family, completing your residency, chores, and settling your responsibilities could prove to be difficult.

As a resident doctor, you may have encountered times where your planned trips are canceled and holidays don’t always materialize because you have to be on duty. This can strain your relationship with your wife, kids, or partner. It’s best to communicate beforehand about your responsibilities in the hospital and how this could affect your plans. And when you’re at home, be sure to be fully present when interacting with your family or partner.

Insufficient sleep

As doctors cater 24-hour shifts (and sometimes extend to 28 hours), a post-call activity could mean a variety of things. Most doctors may trade personal time to run errands, socialize, or spend time with family instead of sleep.

On average, healthcare professionals get less than 7 hours of sleep every day. This chronic sleep debt could leave resident doctors fatigued and unproductive for the next shift. To avoid this, train your mind to ‘dissociate’ from work during your post-call. Give yourself time to prepare for bed by avoiding any blue-light emitting gadgets to help you ease into sleep. If possible, be present when you’re on holiday to relax and enjoy this break.

Achieve work-life balance

This has always been a problem for resident doctors. Work-life balance is close to becoming an ‘elusive myth’ as you try to juggle personal and professional responsibilities. However, you need to strive to achieve this balance for your well-being.

Some hospitals may provide resident mentorship where junior residents are paired with senior residents. This type of program aims to help residents establish an ongoing relationship to encourage and discuss their concerns about work and personal lives through an informal setting.

Resident doctors may also go for fast-food options since there’s little to no time allocated for food preparation. To counter this, restocking food pantries with healthy food options could curb this tendency and help you establish a good diet needed to power you through your shifts.

Developing an imposter syndrome

Or just feeling lonely altogether. Residency training is often overwhelming and reclusive at times. But these feelings are not uncommon to most resident doctors. There could be instances in your training where you’re at the verge of a burn out with self-doubt creeping in. It’s important to establish relationships within the hospital starting with colleagues and even having a mentor to help you cope.

A strong support system could do wonders for your psychological well-being throughout your residency. Your propensity towards negative feelings could develop into imposter syndrome. Having the right mentors or academic coach in your life helps you do away with these feelings and focus on what matters most in your training. Finding a good mentor early in your training could save you many burnouts and self-doubts in the long run.

Engaging in romance

Some doctors would agree that finding time to commit to a romantic relationship while on training could be challenging. With heavy responsibilities and long shifting hours, it could be disorienting for doctors to juggle personal and professional life.

Strong relationships require commitment and maintaining a romantic relationship may be at odds when it comes to your residency. However, with planning and communication, building a reliable romantic relationship can have a good impact on your overall well-being.