The feeling of sadness still continues to flow over me almost daily when I think about the fact that I am not in medicine anymore…that I gave up my white coat completely at the end of 2021 because of doctor burnout.
The feeling then quickly goes to the back of my mind at the realization of what I continuously had to put up with–the long hours, and I don’t mean just an 8- or 12-hour clinical shift. I mean add 30-45 minutes prior to my shift to review my charts and get ready for my 25-30-patient load as well as the 2-3 hours after my shift that I had to stay to finish my notes.
Even worse was the reminder of the times I missed way too many date nights with my husband, missed the Taekwondo match where my son won a gold trophy, all because I had to finish my notes that spilled over from the day. Or the continued annoyance that staring at my computer was apparently “not important” enough to my director to warrant a solution to my complaints. Everything that I stressed over for over 4 years.
Doctor Burnout Doesn’t Come from What the Job Is Supposed to Be
I did not become a doctor to do mundane clicking, which felt like it took up the majority of my day. I didn’t want to deal with data entry while trying to give my patients the attention they need, so the administrative work continued to spill over into the evenings.
Not until a week before I quit the career I had worked so hard for did my director agree to look for solutions, like a medical scribe. Even then, the caveat was that I would need to see at least 3 more patients in a day to make it profitable. I was barely holding on to my sanity with the 25-30- patient load I had! How could he expect me to add more? Maybe later down the road once I was less burned out, but to demand it before I could reduce my stress?!
So now I am here in 2022, relieved of the stress of all that mundane work, but I feel for my patients. Some of them have reached out to me to find out where I moved to so they could still see me. My office had already reached the maximum number of patients before I left, and they were already having a difficult time finding another doctor to bring on board so we could accept new patients and generate additional revenue. Now, they are in quite a bind, down a physician they couldn’t afford to lose, all because my complaints were not “valid” enough for management! How many more physicians will they need to lose to finally see the bigger picture?
Are you experiencing doctor burnout like me? Are you run down to the point of no return?
(Written by Nicole Bramblett, based on the accounts of an anonymous physician who gave up on medicine completely on 12/15/21.)