We compiled a list of some ideas that helped us decrease the feeling of being burned out. Here are tried and true ideas you can use at work and outside of work to help with job burnout.
Things to do at work:
- When late patients slow you down. Know the clinic’s expectations for late patients and documentation. What is the policy of late patients? You can point to the policy and say, I am sorry, but we can set up another time to treat you. Or, you can clearly communicate expectations to the patient- we can start the evaluation today and begin treatment the next visit. What does the clinic expect for documentation time? If they expect
concurrent documentation or completion of documentation at each visit, ask your manager HOW this can be accomplished. If you don’t receive concrete examples of how to treat and document in each treatment session the manager may be saying without saying it that they expect you to document “on your own time- like lunch or after work.” Any good manager will deny this expectation which will then lead you to find a different job or create examples of how to meet this expectation.
- Understand your own limits. I personally know of only one therapist, Erl Pettman, who can masterfully and efficiently perform any outpatient evaluation. Therefore, discipline yourself to leave time for treatment and documentation in your evaluation time. You don’t have to get everything perfect the first time. Teach and Treat to what you have completed and leave room for documentation. You can always perform further evaluation techniques on the next visit.
- Ask for help! Utilize the experience and expertise of your fellow PTs to streamline evaluation techniques. Maybe you need to help with an efficient yet thorough knee evaluation- ask a colleague to assist you/teach you. For documentation learn your EMR! It’s amazing how many shortcuts and timesavers there are. I have worked with a dozen EMR and I have learned to ask experienced clinicians to walk me through how they document- you will be amazed the shortcuts or time saving techniques you may learn.
- Take a 6-10 minute walk. Driving yourself through lunch to complete the documentation will burn you out fast. Research (Read the fantastic Peak Performance) shows that taking a 6-10 minute walk outside (or indoors if you can’t get outside) is beneficial for clearing the mind and allowing you to be more efficient throughout the day.
What to do outside of work:
- Exercise! Of course you know this already. But exercise is an effective way to handle stressors. Before, during or after work all have helped me handle the stress of the day. I have particularly the midday run, bike ride, weight lifting has refreshed my outlook on the day. Problems look more like hill than mountains to climb after exercising.
- Enjoy your hobby! Your life is not defined by you being only a physical therapist. Yes, you spent four years in college and three years in grad school dedicated to this profession. But the profession does not define you. You are a person who does physical therapy but you are not a “Physical Therapist.” You are also a brother, sister, child, significant other, photographer, painter, mother, pastry chef, dad…
- What are you passionate about? Volunteering keeps us balanced. We can get caught up in our work, our hobbies, our family, but volunteering exposes us to people that may share our passion but have a different social, economic or cultural background. Volunteering opens our eyes to appreciate our lives. We experience a bigger world which helps put our careers in proper perspective.