I am a hospitalist in the middle of the US, and I am mid-career. I work in a large metropolitan hospital, work a full 1.0 FTE, and my group is large (> 75 docs). Over the past 3 years, we have lost over 60-70% of our group due to a combination of burnout or poor management (depending on your perspective). Until this point, our group had very little turnover, and nearly all my colleagues were planning on being a hospitalist for their entire careers. But that doesn't exist anymore. I am at a point where something needs to change for myself. Our group leader, as part of a strategy to combat losing more experienced physicians, now advocates that no-one be more than a 0.8 FTE…and when docs complain about management issues or unreasonable work conditions, they are strongly encouraged to cut back how much they work.
Our group leader has a point…under the current working scheme within my particular group, working a 1.0 FTE is a recipe for self destruction. Though it is my feeling that this fact is a result of poor hospital/group management, and is not intrinsic to the job itself (at least I hope this is true).
So I am left with two options: find a new job where hospitalists aren't turned into mince meat, or find a way to cope with the current situation. Even before the "great exodus" I exercised regularly, maintained social contacts out of work, eat very healthily, did yoga, have dabbled with mediation…all the regular "resilience" strategies advocated as a "solution" to burnout. In the end, though, what kills me is the amount of time it takes to fully recover after a 7 day week on service.
The day after finishing work, I am a zombie. Brain is mush, I'm unmotivated, and often take several naps during the day. It is not uncommon for it to take 3 to 5 days to begin feeling human again. Then it all starts again just a couple days later. I convinced that a large part of the problem is that the week I'm on service I'm over stimulated — 9 million unnecessary nursing texts, dying patients and crying families, covering for over burdened social workers, pushy administrators, endless pop-ups on Epic, or patient's yelling at me because they don't like the food or the color of their therapist's skin. The first day off, to counter this, I've tried forcing myself to the gym, cutting out screen time, meditating in a sauna, treating myself to a nice meal in a quiet restaurant, etc, etc, etc.
My question to y'all: I'm wondering if any of you have figured out a way to efficiently/effectively recover after a week on service. I can't see myself making it to retirement at this point. I'm not excited about going for fellowship (though that is what I should have done to start with, instead of becoming a hospitalist). I'm open to anything. And, if I'm being honest, a little desperate for ideas.
Thanks in advance! 🙂
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