It is no secret that family medicine jobs are among the most stressful in the medical field. Between high patient loads and insurance company demands, family medicine practitioners can find themselves feeling like they are running around like the proverbial chicken missing its head. Physician burnout is a regular occurrence. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) aims to change that with a new well-being planner that they released earlier this year.
According to an AAFP announcement published this past April, the release of the planner was part of the organization’s Physician Health First initiative designed to prevent physician burnout and improve both job satisfaction and physician well-being. The planner is available to all AAFP members, whether they own their practices, work as hospital or group practice employees, or practice as locum tenens physicians.
What the Planner Offers
The AAFP designed the planner to be both informative and highly customizable. In addition to static information, family medicine practitioners can use a variety of resources to develop their own well-being plans. According to the AAFP, the planner can assist doctors in:
- developing a series of well-being goals by choosing from a list or entering their own;
- measuring their progress as they work to achieve each of the goals;
- developing a personalized list of resources to help them on their journey; and
- adding and removing resources as needed.
The planner also includes space whereby doctors can suggest resources to be added to the AAFP library. Doctors may find this option helpful as they seek to support others who might be dealing with similar experiences.
Just One Tool
The AAFP is encouraging its members to take advantage of both the planner and the information made available through the Physician Health First initiative. In light of their efforts, it is important to note that the planner is just one tool doctors have at their disposal. They can use it alongside other tools as needed.
Over the years, a variety of experts have offered a long list of suggestions for reducing some of the stress related to family medicine jobs. Below are just a few examples:
- Striving for Balance – Establishing a proper work/life balance is difficult for family medicine practitioners. But striving for that balance is one of the best things doctors can do for their own well-being. There is a time to leave work at work; there is a time to go home to family to enjoy and invest in them.
- Diet and Exercise – Doctors interested in their own will-being would do well to follow the diet and exercise advice they give to patients. Diet and exercise play a significant role in physical, mental, and emotional health.
- Restful Sleep – Doctors also know how important getting enough restful sleep is. People who get enough sleep are less likely to put on weight. They are less likely to suffer from a range of chronic health conditions including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Consider Locum Tenens Work
If you are an employed doctor or practice owner still feeling the pressure even though you are following all the best advice for avoiding burnout, you might consider locum tenens work as an alternative. Locum tenens physicians enjoy a bit more freedom because they can control their own work schedules and the facilities they choose to work for.
Working as a locum may be just what you need to relieve the stress that could otherwise lead to burnout. Maybe it is not the right solution for you, but locum work is at least worth considering.