A reader who works with a chronic pain, military population recently asked if I had any tips to prevent burnout. Here are some of mine and also some I gathered from Social Media.
1) Take Different Con Ed Courses
- Most of us gravitate toward con-ed courses we are familiar with, have a certain reputation, etc
- A good way to prevent burnout is to expose yourself to a good seminar on a topic that is novel and challenging
- To most I would recommend Explain Pain or Therapeutic Neuroscience Education
- Getting new ways to interact with patients, especially a chronic pain caseload that does not respond rapidly helps
- Changing your mindset as to how you view these patients prevents the “I feel powerless to help”
2) Hangout and interact with like minded professionals
- join a group like PT: Practice, Education, and Networking on facebook started by my buddy Rick Daigle of Medical Minds in Motion
- participate in a forum like Manual Therapists, ask questions and chime in on other people’s posts
- try to start a local Clinician’s group where you can practice techniques, assessments and discuss cases semi regularly
- avoid arguing on the internet or with colleagues who are stuck in a model that disagrees with your practice (to a point)
3) Consider taking part time cases in a different setting
- if you’re in outpatient, try home care
- even 2 different cases in a different setting once a week really helps prevent burnout
- prior to all my different endeavors, I worked full time in a private clinic (as a manager), did Clinical Peer Review, and taught at 3 different PT schools, needless to say, I did not get bored!
4) Don’t take your work home with you
- obsessing over a case you think you could have done better often prevents you from relaxing at home
- if you need help, ask online in a facebook group, twitter, or a forum, but otherwise enjoy your time away from work
- just like I tell my chronic pain patients, make sure you take time to listen to your favorite music, have a glass of wine, or watch your favorite movie
5) Strive to change and adapt regularly
- part of stagnation or burnout is a lack of change, we all need variability
- if you have not changed the way you assess, treat, or the framework at which you make your clinical decisions at least every 2-3 years, it is time for you to rethink things!
- finding a mentor, whether it’s online or in person really helps with this as you watch them in their patient interactions