Clinicians have had a rough time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have been experiencing provider burnout. Burnout may involve:
Physical and/or emotional exhaustion
So how can clinicians recover from burnout? Better still, are there ways to prevent it?
Risk factors for clinician burnout
Some of the most common risk factors for clinician burnout include:
Heavy workloads: High demand for behavioral health services can lead to overloaded schedules and unrealistic expectations, all of which can create exhaustion and stress for clinicians.
Poorly designed workflows: Inefficient work systems and administrative demands can frustrate providers, especially when they have many tasks that they consider distractions or a lower priority.
Sustained psychological effort: Behavioral health can be emotionally draining, even when the clinician finds it meaningful and rewarding. Attending to a client’s needs can take a serious mental toll, especially if a client dies or has a serious medical event.
Lack of autonomy: Providers who do not feel some level of control or flexibility in their roles, or freedom to make decisions, can become discouraged and anxious.
Poor client relationships: Not all behavioral health clients follow their clinician’s suggestions. If a client ignores medical advice, demands unnecessary medical care, or otherwise behaves disrespectfully, providers are more likely to experience lower job satisfaction and higher emotional exhaustion.
A thorough review of the risk factors can be found in the 2019 book, Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being.
Recovering from burnout
Are you or a partner experiencing burnout? Here’s what to try before quitting your job:
Form healthy habits: Don’t neglect your physical health. Proper diet, sleep, and physical exercise go a long way toward helping you recover from burnout. Start with small decisions, such as taking a brisk, ten-minute walk, or choosing healthy meals over comfort foods.
Don’t suffer in silence: If you are experiencing burnout, talk to your management or partners about it and brainstorm changes you could make at your practice. Confide in a close friend or consider seeing a counselor yourself.
Start small: It’s likely that many different factors, rather than one big event, contributed to your burnout. In the same way, recovery may involve small steps and gradual improvements.
Preventing clinician burnout
Behavioral health practices have several options for preventing burnout in their staff. (These options can also help alleviate burnout that has already happened.)
Consider hiring temporary staff. Many employers are struggling to fill workforce gaps, so this can be tricky. But even if you can’t afford or find a full-time staff member, consider hiring a temporary or part-time employee, or even a virtual assistant, to help reduce the workload.
Look for opportunities to streamline or automate. This can reduce the need for providers to perform administrative tasks so they can focus more on client care. Appointment reminders, for example, can help nurture client relationships while lightening provider load.
Consult available expert resources. For example, The Ohio State University has been promoting wellness initiatives among clinicians to help reduce burnout. One of these is Mindfulness in Motion, an 8-week program offers resiliency tools to help improve functionality and stress coping.
Frustrating, ineffective technology is a common cause of clinician burnout. Make sure your EHR software is designed specifically for your needs as a behavioral health provider. BestNotes offers customized solutions and documentation options to help your organization be more efficient and less stressful. Contact us today to learn more.