Burnout is the feeling of exhaustion that you want to quit what you have been constantly doing.
Burnout for the physician is the feeling of exhaustion that he / she wants to quit the practice of medicine.
I have had symptoms of burnout before and I foresee that I will have them again in the future as long as I continue to practice medicine and as long as I don’t control the factors leading to burnout.
My most common precipitating causes of burnout are when I feel helpless in curing a patient; when I incur complications in medical management; and when I meet extremely difficult patients and relatives who would question my approach in medical management.
I usually prevent, mitigate and manage these burnout symptoms by talking and sharing my depressing sentiments to comforting medical colleagues; accepting and reminding myself on the universal limitations of physicians – “cure sometimes, relieve often, and comfort always”; trimming down and delimiting the extent of my specialty practice; becoming more cautious in preventing medical complications; referring to medical colleagues as indicated; looking out and avoiding difficult patients by referring them to other medical colleagues who can handle them; and lastly, putting up a disclaimer stating the following:
Medicine is not an exact science!
Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability! (Sir William Osler)
I practice my medical profession factoring in the above precepts.
I don’t guarantee or give warranty for successful outcomes in my medical management.
Nevertheless, I do my utmost best in managing my patients so as to promote successful outcomes (resolution of the health problem with minimal side-effects as much as possible).
I hope I will be able to prevent and mitigate the identified common causes of my burnout syndrome so that only death and crippling disability will stop me from continuing to practice medicine and, most important of all, to continue to take care of my old patients who have already placed their trust in me.