It was a crazy Friday and I was the on-call/charge anesthesiologist running the OR. Last thing I needed was to keep hearing my phone pinging. Emails, emails and more emails…nursing requests, surgeon requests, OR 4 is running late and we have an upset patient, Ortho has another add-on, quick huddle about Monday’s meeting.
I thought to myself “when is this going to be done?” as I became more frustrated with my day.
Suddenly my partner came around the corner laughing. “Looks like a war zone! Glad I’m in a room by myself just doing anesthesia!” he chuckles as he slaps me on the back. The simple beauty of doing what you love.
Yes, I am an anesthesiologist, but I wasn’t doing the anesthesia I loved which includes the patient interaction and setting them at ease; the intimate details of keeping a patient alive during surgery; the smooth emergence and a relieved and appreciative “thank you” in recovery. It’s simply beautiful when it comes together – and it’s what I love about my job.
But all too often the day-to-day details of our job take us away from what we truly love about our job. Repeated studies have shown that on average 1 in 3 physicians across all specialties experience symptoms of burnout on a daily basis with a recent Medscape article citing a 25% increase in burnout over the past 4 years. This dissatisfaction isn’t found just among physicians though. Healthcare CEOs have one of the highest turnover rates of any industry, nursing burnout is a “public health crisis” and a quick Google search will reveal dissatisfaction among a majority of the American workforce.
Now I’m not implying that we’re all “burned-out.” In fact, true burnout is a problem that needs to be dealt with in a professional manner. What I am saying is that we have all experienced symptoms of burnout at some point – and these shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s at those times that we need to remember why we do what we do. What is it about your job that draws you in? What do you love about your job? We need to remember that simple beauty and strive to experience it every day.
Responsibilities will still be there, emails won’t go away, frustrations will still exist but if you can do that one thing that makes you smile every day, all the extras won’t seem as overbearing. As an anesthesiologist, I know that the patient needs me to get them through their surgery, but I also know that I need that patient interaction to get me through my day.
So what drives you?