By Puja Aggarwal with contributions from FlexMedStaff
Burnout was a term first coined in the 1970s by Herbert Freudenberger, a German psychologist who was one of the first to describe the symptoms of chronic exhaustion due to one’s profession. However, Burnout has only become mainstream in the last 3-4 years. The World Health Organization defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” with three parts including feelings of extreme exhaustion, feelings of negativism/cynicism, and reduced professional productivity. According to the 2022 Medscape Physician Burnout and Depression Report, 47% of physicians surveyed were burned out compared to 42% from the prior year. Being in an employed clinical practice position can contribute to burnout with lack of autonomy, pressure to meet wRVUs, patient satisfaction scores, lack of respect from hospital administration and patients, and lack of time for yourself and your family. Locums tenens is a great way to gain back control of your life.
As a practicing Neurologist in 2016, I experienced burnout working at a major academic medical center with 14 weeks of call. I started my first job post-fellowship excited to learn and help care for patients. Yet my first year, burnout set in. I took too many calls, often two weeks at a time, for inpatient neurology consults and EEG. I had the classic signs of burnout, including extreme exhaustion, poor work satisfaction, insomnia, irritability, and social withdrawal. I spent hours at work without paying attention to my two young children. I didn’t know where to turn and felt so alone. I finally decided to leave a job that was not working with who I was or how I wanted to live my life. . I had never heard of coaching before but became curious. I hired a coach who helped me realize how my previous job had impacted my mindset, self-care, and whole life. Through coaching, I changed my perspective by increasing my self-awareness and mindfulness. I also learned to make myself a priority. I could say “no” and set boundaries unlike any time in my past. I found my way to telemedicine, then part-time clinical practice, and then to locums and working in research. Locums has allowed me to enjoy medicine more, spend time with my family and help coach other high-achieving working moms with burnout to make themselves a priority.
6 Ways that Locums Tenens Allows Can Help Mitigate and Prevent Burnout:
Autonomy Over Your Schedule
One of the most common causes of burnout is a lack of control over your schedule. Locums tenens allows you to pick whether you want to practice in an inpatient or outpatient setting and the geographic area where you practice. You can pick and choose what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to work, you don’t work!
- Job Satisfaction
Without all the overlying responsibilities of a full-time job, locums tenens allows you to focus your attention on the art of medicine again. You can once again take the time to practice medicine to help patients. As I practice medicine through locums, this has allowed me the opportunity to enjoy medicine again. I don’t have to worry about meeting wRVU targets or other metrics.
- Time For Self-Care and Outside Interests
You can have the time to take care of yourself through better nutrition, exercise, and time to pursue your hobbies. Through locums, I have taken better care of myself, including exercising consistently with healthy eating. I can now pursue my outside venture of coaching high-achieving female professionals with burnout due to having more time. In addition, I can spend time meditating and have time for self-reflection.
- Reduced Stress
With fewer work demands, patient satisfaction metrics, disrespect of patients and admin, locums has led me to have less stress and better-coping skills. I am fulfilled with more freedom and the ability to stress less.
- More Time with Your Family
Locums allows you to spend more time with your family. You can spend a couple of months working and then spend the other two weeks with your family. You can drop your kids off at school and pick them up. I have had better relationships with my kids and family since starting the locums life. I can attend kindergarten graduations and other events that I previously could not.
- Opportunity to Explore New Places
Locums allows you the opportunity to travel to different parts of the countries where you may not have gone otherwise. On your locums assignments, you can learn more about other cities and experience great food and new experiences. And the best part is that you get to travel and lodging for free!
I am wrapping it up!
Locums were the best thing to happen to me! I now help other female professionals with burnout to learn to make themselves a priority, achieve better sleep, and learn who they are and what they want from life. I am not sure where I would be without locums. I was able to back control of my life. I encourage others to do the same. Restore that passion for medicine while doing locums. Work less! Get paid well! And be happier!