How can doctors avoid burnout? ‘I only lasted 52 years in practice! It’s fun!’
Eminent physician and medical educator, Dr. Marshall Wolf, – on a need to balance life outside of medicine, family, and work in one’s medical career:
Physicians often suffer from burnout and from dissatisfaction with a “job” rather than the “calling” that they decided upon when they went into medicine. And it’s true for physicians in training, but it’s also true for physicians mid-career and accomplished physicians. How to be happy as a physician? How to avoid the burnout? Well, I’m aware of the statistics on burnout. I only lasted 52 years in practice, so I don’t know! And then I quit because I was becoming deaf. And I think being a physician is just wonderful fun! I think that a lot of times people get burned out for two reasons. One, they put themselves in a work position where the hours are just impossible for their family and for life outside of that and so they have to figure out how not to do that. And then the second thing is physicians often don’t appreciate the rewards of [medical] practice. You know, they take to share patients’ lives, to help them solve their problems, figure out what’s going on, and help them do that. I found it wonderfully satisfying. If you don’t – then you’re going to work very hard and you may decide you don’t like it after a certain period of time. I think the practice of medicine is a lot of fun. I think that sometimes people put themselves in a position where they work too many hours, so it’s unsatisfying to their families. And they don’t have a life outside of medicine, which I think you do need. You need to have a life as well as a profession and… You know, personally I just like medicine, I still enjoy it, you know, I’m “retired”, so I only come to the hospital 35 hours a week to learn and to teach.