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Avoiding CT Surgery Physician Assistant Burnout

Posted by CT Assist on Sep 16, 2013 12:04:09 PM

CT Surgery Physician Assistants are the workhorses for most CT Surgery programs across the nation.  There are dwindling numbers of experienced CT surgery Physician Assistants with the skill-sets required to effectively manage the high acuity patients.  General Surgery residents are leaving CT Surgery in droves to maintain their strict 80 hour work week.   CT Surgery PAs are leaving the jobs they love to pursue a better life in a less demanding specialty.  There exists a shortage of CT Surgeons, and the problem will likely worsen.  Hospitals are asking for more than ever from their CT Surgery physician assistants, putting their PAs at risk of burnout.

What is CT Surgery Physician Assistant burnout?  How can it be avoided?  Does working 36 straight hours take it’s toll on your body?  How about being oncall every other night or even every third night?   Does answering a phone call in the middle of the night really affect your psyche?  Job Satisfaction?  Longevity?  CT Surgery burnout will be defined.  Techniques and strategies to reduce the likelihood of burnout will be suggested.  Although CT Surgery PA burnout is real, the good news is that it can be avoided.  But you must act now, before it’s too late.  After you have reached your limit and fallen over the edge, you may choose to leave the job you used to love, and that would be a tragedy!

There is an unwritten code in surgery that one must come in early and leave late, work nights, weekends, etc.  This code not only applies to the physician, but is similarly applicable to the physician assistant who in many cases must precede the surgeon to check labs, perform a quick exam, and write the progress note.   Quite often the PAs assist the nurses in recovering and extubating the patient.  PAs might be the go to person for overnight questions from the ICU nursing staff.   How can a PA possibly perform all these tasks and not get burned out?  Before I go any further:  I am grateful for the opportunity to provide these services to my patients.  I am not complaining, only stating the large responsibility that comes along with the job so that adequate job structure can be designed to avoid burnout.   Our profession needs every single PA, and cannot afford any further losses to other less demanding specialties.

In 2009, the archives of surgery article “Stress and Burnout Among Surgeons  :  Understanding and Managing the Syndrome and Avoiding the Adverse Consequences” quotes burnout rates of surgeons around 35%.  Reasons for burnout include:  “limited control over the provision of medical services, long working hours and workload, imbalance between career and family, feeling isolated or loss of time to connect with colleagues, financial issues, grief and guilt about patient death or unsatisfactory outcome, and setting unrealistic goals or having them imposed upon oneself.”  Sound familiar?  All these stresses are shared with the PA.

How can we avoid burnout while still providing the services?   Seek positions that value employee family life.  These positions may restrict the workload to a sustainable level by hiring a large team of physician assistants, distributing the load amongst many personnel.  Consider working for a physician assistant owned company like CT Assist or Physician Assistant Surgical Associates.  These organizations have large pools of PAs to share the day to day responsibilities.  They also use their per diem PAs to reduce the oncall load to a nominal level, they build the schedule based upon the strengths and desires of the PA. Nobody will treat the PA better than a PA owned company that understands the pitfalls of CT Surgery PA Burnout!

You may also want to create two lists:  professional goals and personal goals.  Highlight the most important goals from each list.  Reconcile the conflicts and develop a plan to meet your most important goals.  Enhance the work most personally meaningful to you.    Identify opportunities to reflect with colleagues about stressful and rewarding aspects of your practice.  Identify and nurture personal wellness strategies of importance to you!  Nurture important relationships, spirituality, and hobbies.  Ensure your body receives adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition.   Take control of your job.  Don’t let administrators determine your breaking point.  Define your limits prior to accepting the job.   If you feel uneasy about the demands of a particular job, don’t work there!   CT Surgery PAs are in demand, and have the power to define their positions, take advantage of your power.

Please don’t become a statistic!   Avoid CT Surgery Physician Assistant Burnout.  Our profession needs satisfied healthy PAs!

By Scott Yoder


Topics: CV Surgery Burnout, CVT Surgery Burnout, Physician Assistant Burnout, Physician Assistant Work/Life Balance, Surgery Work/Life Balance, Work/Life Balance, CT Assist, CT Surgery Burnout