Americans have a reputation of being “workaholics”. Some companies only allow 1-2 weeks of vacation each year. Luckily with locum tenens, our vacation time can be as long as we want it to be. I calculated that last year in 2016, I took a total of 12 weeks vacation time. Isn’t that amazing?!
Anyways, I had been at my current assignment for almost 6 months, with my last vacation being about 3 months ago. I started to feel antsy being in the same place. And I noticed my patience starting to dwindle down and slowly became more irritable.
Just in time, my 3-week vacation came in. I was able to relax and take some time away from the daily commotion of working in the medical field. After recharging my batteries, I came back to work an entirely new person.
I was no longer stressed. I had an abundance of patience and took my time with my work. No poor scheduling or acute complex visit was going to ruin my day. I felt like I had more energy to listen to my patients and provide them with even better care.
The reason I bring this up is because I do not think there is a medical provider out there that is not familiar with “physician burnout”. Medical workforce burnout is troublesome because it enables us to become cynical about medicine and exhausted both physically and emotionally.
There are many factors that impact this burnout. Some of these include the amount of patients seen per day; amount of time allotted per patient; working with a challenging patient population; lack of admin time; the need for thorough documentation to avoid malpractice claims; and too many bureaucratic demands.
The best way to prevent burnout in the workplace is to allow frequent periods of vacation or time off. Working in locum tenens allows this flexibility. Many locum tenens nurse practitioners choose to take time off between assignments, while others choose to only work a part-time schedule. Although I do not think I will be taking off 12 weeks again this year, it will still be more than the average medical provider.