Posted by: Atlas MD

August 28, 2023

It’s the Burn, Not the Out

If you’re reading this or have decided to become part of the DPC movement, it’s because you’ve experienced burnout.

This isn’t just bad for providers, but also for patients, families, and healthcare systems — and in 2023, it’s worse than ever.

Based on the latest report from Medscape:

  • 53% of physicians say they’re burned out
  • 23% of physicians say they’re depressed
  • Female physicians are affected more severely than male physicians
  • Self-employed physicians report less burnout
  • Burnout is blamed on bureaucratic tasks and long hours

While none of this is really surprising or new, it’s that last point that deserves attention.

Often when we think of burnout, we get the impression that providers have nothing left to give. They’re worn out, depleted, spent.

But what if the problem wasn’t the fuel left in the tank, but the flame itself? The flame that used to burn bright and consistently when you were in med school or just starting out at your first practice?

Maybe it’s not the quantity of the work overwhelming providers but the quality of it. Churning through appointments to make more money is hardly meaningful, and neither is drowning in the subsequent endless seas of paperwork.

A lot of providers want to do work so that they have more time to enjoy life — and that’s completely understandable.

But most physicians aren’t afraid of work – it’s why they got into healthcare in the first place – but of doing banal work.

The solution, then, is to focus on doing work that matters. Reignite the flame. Spend time doing the things that made you passionate about healthcare in the first place:

  • Working hard
  • Finding creative solutions to problems
  • Being of service to others
  • Helping patients
  • Changing lives

It’s about finding work worth doing, and doubling down on that work, rather than getting caught in the work that pays the bills but starves the soul.

The stoics believe that the secret to happiness is work worth doing.

That feels true. And maybe that’s true for burnout too — the secret to burnout is work worth doing.