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Physicians’ Prescriptions for a Better Workplace: Top 10 Ways to Reduce Stress

In a recent LocumTenens.com Compensation & Employment survey, we asked physicians and advanced practitioners for their opinions on mental health in the workplace.  While the physician shortage worsens, more patients than ever are insured and want access to behavioral health care. This is leading to a crisis in access for patients and a wave of burnout and increased stress for the clinicians who carry an overburdened workload. Out of 2,438 respondents to the question “how much stress do you face in the workplace,” the majority of physicians answered “a lot of stress” while almost all advanced practitioners were split between “a lot” or “a little” stress.

While clinicians definitely feel stress at work, they’ve developed their own coping. Some of the most frequent responses are listed below.

  1. Practice mindful meditation. Take breaks during the day to relax.
"I cope with stress in the workplace by walking and meditating. My exercise includes yoga and tennis. I enjoy the outdoors especially the ocean. Stress in the workplace is deferred by keeping a positive attitude and detaching." - Nurse Practitioner in Occupational Medicine
“I rely on my faith and prayer. I focus on remaining calm and not allowing the chaos to get to me. Also, remembering I am there for the benefit of the patient and putting their needs first gives me purpose in what I am doing.” ~Nurse Practitioner in Critical Care
  1. Exercising is one of the best ways to reduce stress and burnout. Whether jogging after your shift, attending a yoga class or taking a walk during your lunch break, find a way to stay active each day.
  2. Talking and consulting with colleagues and peers can help. Lean on supportive relationships, including at home. Remember to laugh and have fun! Humor is a great reliever of stress.
“I try to laugh with my colleagues and then go home and enjoy my life outside of work.” ~Psychiatrist
  1. Leave work at work. Try compartmentalizing so you don’t take stress home with you.
“Engage in productive activities outside of work that are fun, mentally or physically satisfying, or do things that help to build self-esteem and provide a sense of self-satisfaction. And of course, compartmentalize — leave work at work. Work is only a part of your life. Keeping a balanced work-life perspective is essential in avoiding or alleviating undue or excessive stress.” ~Internal Medicine Physician
  1. Take action. Try to make changes at work if there are things that are within your control.
“I go with the flow but try to figure out where the root of the problem lies and try to find resolutions to it.” ~Anonymous
  1. Stay positive and keep things in perspective.
“Rise above the petty irritations and when the stress is from important situations, procedures and challenges, focus on what your skill set offers to the situation. Stay alert to the availability and value of assistance from others and remain open to requesting assistance early and often.” ~Obstetrician/Gynecologist
  1. Pick up or continue a favorite hobby, like gardening, listening to or performing music, reading, fishing or riding a motorcycle. Or use your hobby and skills to volunteer in your community.
  2. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy for stress management. Just because you provide treatment doesn’t mean you can’t benefit yourself.
“I try to exercise a lot and eat healthy to take care of myself, but I have also been in psychotherapy (in and out) for years, which has been the smartest decision of my life.” ~Family Practice Physician
  1. Change your workload. Consider telemedicine, going part-time or becoming an independent contractor.
“I quit my last hospital-owned practice because the stress caused by the hospital administration just made it not worth any amount of money. As a locum, the only stress in the workplace I have to deal with is maintaining good patient care, which is far easier and manageable.” ~Gastroenterologist
  1. Make sure you take your earned vacation time. You deserve it! Whether you want to tour an exotic locale, visit family in another state or even stay home and relax, make sure you cash in those days you earned.

Invitations for the survey were emailed to a database of more than 80,000 individuals, which included physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and CRNAs. Respondents to all surveys were self-selected and spanned all 50 states and medical/surgical specialties. The response rate was 2.56 percent, with a +/- 3 percent error rate at a 95 percent confidence level.

About LocumTenens.com:
LocumTenens.com is a full-service healthcare staffing agency, specializing in the temporary placement of physicians, CRNAs, physician assistants and nurse practitioners at healthcare facilities across the U.S.  As the industry’s most-visited job board, LocumTenens.com helps healthcare organizations connect with the professionals they need to ensure patients have access to quality care. Founded in 1995, LocumTenens.com is part of the Jackson Healthcare family of companies. Learn more at www.locumtenens.com/about.