How often do you leave work exhausted?

I’ve written about physician burnout before, and it continues to be a prevalent issue in our profession. The Happy Philosopher highlights many of these issues on his website, and I continue to be an avid follower of his wisdom. Truth is that we all have our ways to deal with the ups and downs of our jobs, and one of the issues plaguing us is that we care about our jobs.

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More often than not, I end the workday in the office exhausted. Ironically, the clinical work is rarely the challenge—it’s the environment that we work within. Sometimes problems arise from the myriad of personalities from the front desk to the back office. Other occasions the headaches come of the onerous regulations of the insurance companies. And of course, we don’t want to forget about that extra meeting someone in administration decides to squeeze in just to take away that hour and half of your life.

How do doctors deal with exhaustion and stress?


We all know someone in every profession who fits into this category. These folks just go along with whatever rules are dished out to them.  As someone with moderate compulsivity, I have been guilty of trying “reform” the apathetic into sharing my beliefs.  You can correctly assume how well these initiatives turned out.  Over the years, I think that I’ve come to understand better why we are all prone to apathy.  It’s simply a path of lesser resistance.  I’m sure that many people who appear to be apathetic were once energetic, young, visionaries who succumbed to failures of our system to effect a change. Most importantly, if you start becoming apathetic, you might have a good shot at reducing your work-related exhaustion.

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Some of us are perennially disgruntled. There are doctors at my staff meetings who always raise their hands and interject, sometimes only for the sake of interruption and stirring up controversy. Many of these disruptive comments are warranted, however. When you put together a group of high functioning professionals in a room, there is always a good chance that someone will be able to identify something to fix or a problem with something the hospital or administration proposes. Frankly, I’d imagine that putting up resistance will eventually wear you down and exacerbate any ongoing stress. Anecdotally, many of these personality types either have secondary family conflicts that arise because of stress at work.


Some people are born to become party poopers.

Problem Resolution

This is the personality type that I admire the most. These gals seem to have a positive spin on even the most negative situations. Hospital going bankrupt? No problem! Let’s cut the budget in the doctor’s lounge, and work a little harder! I do see doctors who have an endless amount of energy. They are likely hypomanic, their spouses are angels to allow them to focus their energies on work, and they do get stuff done.

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I find myself cycling through all three of these personality modes. It really depends on what the issue I’m faced with, and whether I decide it is worth fighting for.  I typically consider myself a positive person, so I tend to look for a way to find a compromise.  If I ever become more apathetic than not, that will certainly be a sign that I need to hang up my hat. Until then, I plan to stick to the plan. Get my fair share of compensation at work, save as much as I can in the process, and enjoy the journey. Some exhaustion never hurt anyone, right?

How do you deal with exhaustion from work?

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