This past week I attended the Society for Critical Care Medicine Critical Care Congress. Sure, the venue was a draw (Honolulu), as was the opportunity to spend time hanging out with my favorite pharmacist (Ann Marie is a rockstar and wonderful human). More importantly, I always leave this meeting feeling like it was time and money well spent. This year was absolutely no exception (and yes, Burn Unit colleagues…be afraid. I have at least 5 new and improved ideas for us!).
One of the standout sessions was a 2 hour discussion of burnout in ICU providers. The session focused on physicians and nurses, and I’ll grant I would have liked more inclusion of information for our APCs, our PTs/OTs, and our pharmacists. In spite of that, there was a lot of great discussion around the topic; if you want to see what it looked like on social media, check out the #StopICUBurnout hashtag on Twitter. It’s clear that we need to take a team-based approach to burnout because of the impact on team dynamics (it’s contagious) and patient outcomes (it’s negative). Oh, and it also negatively effects our learners.
Here’s the conundrum around burnout. A certain amount of stress can be positive and constructive under appropriate circumstances. Plenty of literature demonstrates that we adapt, both individually and collectively, with a certain amount of stress and that these changes can be for the better. The issue becomes when the amount of stress is simply too much and we can’t manage another thing.
I’ve been there, and if you’re honest with yourself you’ve probably been there too. That’s when stress can become negative and maladaptive and push us into that “burnout” space.
What if going for a run or going to yoga or doing whatever your “thing” is- what if that were actually helpful even when you’re heading into what I’ve referred to more than once as “the land of overwhelm”? Or…to ask it another way, how many times have you not done something that you know is good for your mind, soul, and body because you simply have too many other things to do?
Again, yes, count me amongst the guilty. But what if that “one more thing” is actually something that really is regenerative for you? It might actually help you to become more productive and more focused. And if you’re a leader in your environment, by being authentic and engaged (and less stressed), you’re setting the best tone for your team to thrive as well.
Try it. Let me know how it goes. I promise I’ll work on doing better with this as well.