Columbus, OH – Snooze – it’s one of the best features on any alarm device or app. It gives you those luxurious five extra minutes to relax before actually having to think about getting up. But, what happens when you don’t realize that you’ve pushed it more than once? Now you’re more than 15 minutes late to kicking off the start of your Saturday morning to-do list. Instead of getting started, you succumb to this internal desire to lie back down for just a few more minutes. Sound familiar? Chances are you, like millions of others, may be experiencing burnout.
Burnout is the ongoing public health crisis impacting many people around the world. The idea is that because we have spent so much time putting pressure on ourselves to constantly stay up to date with more information than our brains can process and be successful in everything that we do, it has caused us to feel tired. But, it’s not the type of tired that a power nap can cure – it’s a tired that’s debilitating, causing an emotional detachment from reality and making the most mundane tasks feel like too much to handle.
The concept of burnout is not new, it’s been previously discussed in a number of medical studies, but, only until recently, has the topic garnered enough interest to be considered worth a conversation in mainstream media outlets.
With over 10 thousand retweets and likes on Twitter, a post linked to Anne Helen Petersen’s article How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation sparked conversation across various social media platforms on how burnout has personally impacted the lives of a number of users. Inspiring clever memes and references in shows such as Netflix’s Tidying up with Marie Kondo, the conversation of burnout is not only appearing in pop culture, it is also creeping its way into the future of our workforce. Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, are slowly taking over the medical workplace as baby boomers set their eyes on retirement.
Research conducted across seven medical schools in the United States showed that 52.8% of its students reported that they had burnout. In what should be one of the greatest moments of their lives, medical students are re-thinking their career choice.
Couple the ever-changing landscape of the healthcare industry along with the demand for quick, effective healthcare and it’s clear why our heroes in white coats and scrubs are struggling to provide the same quality care they were once able to.
In an article for The Washington Post, Pamela Wible writes, “brilliant, compassionate [doctors] can’t care for complex patients in 15 minute slots…pressure from insurance companies and government mandates crush these talented [doctors] who just want to help people.”
Not only have the demands and expectations for patient care changed over the years, the clinical information medical professionals are required to retain is far more than what their minds can process. Given the mass amount of information available, it’s proving to be yet another hurdle.
In the 2019 Health Trend Ten, Rewired HCP (trend six) takes a deep dive into the attention famine (trend six, dynamic four) – the reality that our culture promotes a permanent state of multitasking and with all of the content available to us, we can’t pay attention to everything. Recent research has noted that our brains receive around 11 million bits of data per second, however, we’re only able to process 50 bits per second. That’s a huge discrepancy for the people required to save lives each day, especially considering that only 53 percent of doctors feel that the increase in medical information makes them a better doctor.
Why This Matters –
As millennials begin to take over the workforce, a new generation of doctors is emerging and they’re burnt out. But, this burnout is significantly more than just a bad day. Doctors commit suicide at twice the rate of the general population. With mental health at the forefront of most debates today, companies are recognizing that doctors are more than just our healthcare providers, they’re people too. Acknowledging that time-consuming administrative tasks are one of the driving factors for burnout, new tech tools are coming forward to provide some relief.
Johns Hopkins is one hospital testing clinical documentation products from Nuance in hopes that they will help relieve some of the time spent on tasks such as data entry. Nuance’s tools provide doctors “real-time assistance with diagnosis and coding” to help improve the speed and effectiveness of billing.
With one million Americans losing their doctors to suicide each year, it’s time that we pay attention to their mental health. For years, doctors have been saving our lives, now it’s our turn to save theirs.