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Developing Resilience and Avoiding Physician Burnout, Part Two

April 4, 2017

Series Part Two: Fostering Resilience

Although medicine is a stressful profession, many physicians are able to practice medicine without experiencing burnout. Developing resilience increases the likelihood of avoiding burnout. Resilient individuals typically have a more optimistic outlook, remain calm in a crisis, have a good sense of humor and are less daunted by challenges. An individual could be naturally resilient but persons who are not resilient by nature can develop habits that increase their resilience.

Enhancing Resilience through Effective Time Management

A major source of stress for physicians is the burden to perform a large number of tasks and see an increasing number of patients in a limited amount of time. Competing demands are often identified as one of the factors contributing to missteps that result in medical errors. The strategies below can be implemented to ensure more efficient use of time.

Time management tips:

  • Set limits on time for work and personal time
  • Prioritize tasks (personal and work related)
  • Work on the most important tasks when your energy level is highest, to increase your efficiency
  • Decrease time spent on activities that rob you of the time needed to complete more important tasks (e.g. limit time spent watching television)
  • Create “to-do” lists and set reminders instead of relying on memory; this reduces the stress of having to remember tasks
  • Do not schedule more tasks for a single day than can be realistically accomplished. Doing so is impractical and only adds to your stress
  • Don’t get stressed by thinking about all of your “to-dos.” Instead, each day focus on the tasks assigned for that day to avoid feeling overwhelmed
  • Do not take on more tasks than you can accomplish in the time available and avoid setting or committing to unrealistic deadlines
  • Get adequate rest so that you can perform optimally
  • Set deadlines and don’t procrastinate
  • Use “waiting time” to accomplish tasks (e.g. while waiting in line you can check voicemail/email messages)

Thank you for reading part two of our physician burnout series. Stay tuned for parts three and four later in the month. 


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