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Avoiding Burnout in Anesthesia as a Locum Provider

Avoiding Burnout in Anesthesia as a Locum Provider

Burnout in healthcare providers has been a growing concern for years. In 2019, the National Academy of Medicine found that burnout among U.S. healthcare workers had reached “crisis levels,” with 35% to 54% of nurses and physicians, and 45% to 60% of medical students and residents reporting symptoms.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, as healthcare workers have faced increasingly high stress levels caused by factors such as workforce and resource shortages, excessive workloads, lack of organizational support, and risk for COVID-19 infections.

According to one study, rates of physician burnout in the first year of the pandemic increased among four out of five frontline specialties, especially among hospitalist and primary care physicians. Another recent study of nurses found that three-quarters of respondents reported experiencing burnout since the pandemic began; 64% said they are looking to leave healthcare, almost a 40% increase from a survey last year.

Understanding Burnout

Burnout is an occupational syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress. It is characterized by a pattern of symptoms, including:

    • Low physical and emotional energy or exhaustion
    • Reduced sense of personal accomplishment, enthusiasm, or efficacy at work
    • Increased feelings of negativity, apathy, or cynicism toward work

Burnout can lead to negative consequences for healthcare workers, systems, and patients if left unaddressed. People experiencing burnout are vulnerable to risks such as:

    • Physical health problems, like insomnia, heart disease, and diabetes
    • Relationship and interpersonal conflicts
    • Increased incidence of substance abuse, isolation, anxiety, and depression

6 Strategies to Prevent Burnout

It’s not just full-time healthcare workers who are at risk for burnout. Locum providers also cope with chronic stress and can reach a state of burnout. Here are six strategies to help you care for yourself and avoid burnout as a locum provider:

1. Don’t overdo your schedule.

Be intentional about not committing yourself to too much travel. Design your schedule so that you aren’t traveling too much within a week or month.

2. Take a break.

If you do a long-term locum assignment, make sure to plan some time off before taking a new assignment. Think of this as a non-negotiable period for you to recharge and reset.

3. Prioritize your mental and physical well-being.

Engage in activities you enjoy that are restorative for your mental and physical health. Exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep, and manage stress with calming activities such as yoga or mindfulness meditation.

4. Keep a record of the places you’ve worked and rank them.

Note the positives and negatives of each position and work environment. Would you return for another job? Why or why not? If something needs to change for you to take another job in a particular place, talk to your recruiter about it.

5. Make a list.

Keep track of the pros and cons of diverse types of assignments. What most appeals to you? What do you consider a dealbreaker? Apply your conclusions when considering new opportunities.

6. Focus on your values.

Keep a list of your priorities for a workplace. Which values are most important to you? How do you want to see them in action? Make sure the places you commit to work with are in alignment with your top values.

Searching for a locum tenens anesthesia job? Contact Radar Healthcare Providers to find out about job opportunities across the United States.  


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