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Ob Hospitalist Group's Dr. Nahille Natour recently shared her personal story of battling physician burnout with national healthcare industry news site Fierce Healthcare.
The emotion in the delivery room was a mixture of fear and excitement—the feeling that something you’ve wanted is about to become a reality. The couple in the room was young and the woman was fully dilated. Labor was smooth so far and she had just begun pushing.
I was the physician in the room, and the only excitement I could muster was for the end of the delivery. I loved labor and delivery, but in that moment I wanted to be anywhere but there.
Clearly my feelings were a stark juxtaposition to the happiness in the room, and it was in that moment that I realized I needed a change. This was not who I thought I would become when I was an altruistic medical student. The constant stress and increasing bureaucratic demands were taking their toll. I was burned out.
Physician burnout is the result of prolonged stress with three major components: exhaustion, cynicism or disengagement, and a reduced sense of professional achievement. I was experiencing all three, and now I know I was not alone. According to an article published in the Mayo Proceedings, 54% of physicians show signs of burnout and that number had increased from 45% in just three years.
It wasn’t easy admitting that I needed help and I wasn’t sure where to turn, but I found a life coach who worked with other professional women who were in similar situations. With a great deal of introspection, it became clear that private practice no longer fit my needs.
I thought about leaving clinical medicine. It was a daunting option and giving up a steady income was unfathomable. I was still paying off medical school loans. I had come this far. How could I leave?