Updated: Jul 6, 2022
An Honest Assessment of Where I Am Today
Dr. Jackie the PA
I have worked in healthcare for over 20 years in some capacity and today, I feel the effects of burnout. Yes, I am tired, stressed, apathetic, and am not currently finding joy in my role. Going to work is a chore. If I'm being transparent, my current job is not the hardest, worst, or most challenging job I've had over the years. In fact, this job is probably one of the easier ones I've had. I seriously think it is the culmination of many things contributing to my overall disinterest and lack of motivation to do my job. Now, don't take this as I hate what I do, because I don't. I believe helping and caring for others is a part of who I am and I love people. At the same time, people in the last 2 years have been hard to deal with. Please continue reading to see my self-assessment and how I plan to tackle it.
Here is where I will put my disclaimer that all my blogs are an expression of myself, my own opinions, my own thoughts. What I write does not reflect the thoughts, ideas, or opinions of any previous or current employers, or professional organizations to which I belong or previously belonged.
Working in healthcare was challenging before the pandemic. There would be staff shortages, feelings of unworthiness and underappreciation, and the never-ending failure to satisfy every patient you came in contact with. The pandemic just amplified this and brought along with it entitled people who were suddenly master scientists of a novel situation. Add that to the increasing microaggressions and at times, blatant racism and it is a miracle I am still working mostly sane.
The pandemic has unveiled my anxiety, stress, and empathy exhaustion.
The pandemic made me realize that healthcare professionals are grossly undervalued in society. First, of course, are the teachers, but we are either tied or a solid second. Not only do health professionals have to adapt to the ever-changing guidelines and organizational recommendations, but we also have to adapt to the countless personalities we will encounter. We must navigate however the other person is adapting to everything going on while suppressing whatever feelings we have in order to get the job done. This can include dealing with overtly aggressive people, rude or disrespectful people. While I try my best to establish and maintain boundaries, in the end, I nod, smile, and get on with the day. It is effing exhausting. Imagine doing this on a full-time basis for 2 years straight with minimal time off and no real way to escape it.
I think a lot of my frustration has come from working in an industry that doesn't really take care of the people that are supposed to take care of the people. While trickle-down economics is not a real thing, I do think how people are treated can trickle down. Imagine healthcare organizations ensuring their employees felt valued, respected, and listened to. When people are treated well, they are more motivated to treat others well. When people feel supported, they can reciprocate that support. This is not to imply or say that people are getting treated badly. It is saying that it makes caring and working to be nice so much harder when no one cares about you. I could never imagine treating people as if I "kinda cared."
So, What Am I Going to Do?
Change something. I am going to change something that I can control, which is the environment in which I care for people. Yes, this means exploring my options while prioritizing what matters to me most at this stage of my career and life. In pausing and assessing what is stressing me out and what can I control, I was able to create a list of what mattered most in my next role. I need flexibility in my work schedule to take care of my own health and be available best as a wife and mom. I want to still help people, but I know I do not need to deal with disgruntled people in order to be helpful. I am well aware that I cannot please all the people all the time, no matter where I am, but I can decrease undesirable interactions. I want to feel valued and respected for what I know and do. It may be a pipe dream, but I going to chase after it. I will keep y'all posted on my next moves.
If you feel like you are dealing with burnout, I'd love to hear how you are coping.
Dr. Jackie the PA