Staying Sane as Medicine Goes Crazy

Shelly Reese


July 25, 2014

In This Article

More Ways to Stay Calm and Sane

Work With Your IT Team

Make sure you're getting the most out of your EHR system. Program your alerts intelligently so that you can safely manage your patients' care, but aren't overwhelmed with alerts, Stratman says. Take the time to set up templates so that, where appropriate, you can prepopulate certain fields. It may take a while to do this up front, but it'll save you loads of time in the long run.

Talk to Each Other

Electronic communication isn't always the most efficient means of sharing information and making requests. Likewise, not every email that crosses your desk needs your immediate attention, Dr. Sinsky says. Having a staff member screen emails can save time, as can quick face-to-face discussions in the hallway.

Also important: Relationships can get thorny and difficult when in-person communication or phone calls cease and emails become the sole mode of communication. Intentions are misunderstood, and distance can grow between the two parties, as well as bad feelings on occasion. If you notice that people used to chat in person but now only exchange emails, pick up the phone sometime and have an actual conversation.

Some practices have a guideline that if you're on your third email exchange with someone about the same topic, it's time to make a phone call. These "real-person" interactions can avert potential misunderstandings as well as promote warmer relationships.

Know What You Need

Although working smarter and building greater efficiencies can help create a more comfortable work environment for everyone, doctors who want to stay sane in the ever-changing world of medicine need to attend to their own physical, emotional, and social needs. Toward that end, you need to:

Take Care of Yourself

Ronald Groat, MD, a Minneapolis psychiatrist and consulting physician for PWS, reminds physicians to practice what they preach: Eat right, exercise, and spend time with your family and friends. "You have to remember your priorities," he says. "You can't forget -- and neglect -- the people and activities that are important to you and give your life meaning. If you can't find that balance in your existing situation, then you should consider how you can make changes. It may be worth your while to reduce your income if it translates to a better quality of life."

Use Your Medical Society as a Resource

Many medical societies offer a wide variety of Webinars and workshops directed at the challenges doctors face every day, notes Dr. Valenti, including resources to help physicians cope with burnout. "If you isolate yourself, you're more likely to drop out of medicine."

Control What You Can

Physicians told PWS researchers that greater flexibility and control over their working hours would mitigate burnout and stress. In light of that, doctors need to "look for opportunities to influence things in their day-to-day lives," says Dr. Groat. For example, when negotiating the terms of your employment, voice your needs and make sure they're addressed in your contract.


The world of medicine is in flux, and there's very little you as an individual doctor can do about that. But figuring out how you fit into -- and respond to -- this brave new world? That's up to you.


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