Burn-out is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, de-personalisation, low productivity and feelings of low achievement. While burn-out is by no means limited to medics, there is recognition that it occurs more frequently in our profession than in many others.
Try these websites if you want help either personally or for a colleague with identifying, preventing or managing burn-out.
www.mindtools.com will help you think about symptoms of burnout
Patient UK - www.patient.co.uk
This has an easy-to-read guide to burn-out in the medical profession. It gives a good description of what burn-out is and how it links to depression and emotional exhaustion. The guide covers alcoholism and drug dependence. There is insightful discussion of aspects of pathogenesis, identification and prevention.
- Use your personal development plan to help review your own risk factors for burn-out including non-clinical areas.
- As with many illnesses, early identification and intervention give a better prognosis, and prevention is even better.
Royal College of General Practitioners - www.rcgp.org.uk
Download the RCGP's information sheet about stress and general practice (updated 2005). It is quite lengthy but is a very comprehensive discussion with fascinatingly detailed facts concerning the changing prevalence, causes, symptoms, signs and effects of stress in general practice.
It also reviews interventions and solutions, focusing particularly on approaches for the whole profession. It is reassuring to read how the RCGP has looked in such detail at the working lives of GPs.
- Included at the end are links to many advice and support services.
Mind Tools - www.mindtools.com
This is a commercial website which aims to help people learn the practical skills needed to excel in their careers. The site includes a free burn-out self test which is quick to complete.
Vibrant Life - www.vibrantlife.co.uk
Search for '10 proven antidotes for workplace burnout' written for Vibrant Life magazine's March-April 2004 issue.
- Make the time for a lunch break and give some thought to what you eat.
- It is worth listening to music during your admin time. A bit of Classic FM or even playing some 'air-guitar' while listening to heavy metal, on headphones of course, might help lighten your day.
Dr Lackey is a locum GP in Tyne and Wear.