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First Year PA

How to Avoid Absolute Frustration

Published July 21, 2014 3:02 PM by Caroline Pilgrim

Primary care is so imperfect. Each day I could probably find as many things to complain about as complaints my patients come in with, and I am beginning to see why burnout can occur. That is, if you don't have the right perspective. As I forge ahead on this year-one journey, I am creating tenets to avoid burnout. I'm honestly not a huge believer in self-help or magical powers of positive thinking, but we all function day-to-day with principles and ideas influencing us, whether we admit it or not.  

  • Principle one: Poker face. Laughing on the inside is always acceptable, but patients will say the most outlandish things. "It's easier to get marijuana than an antibiotic so just give me a refill on this amoxicillin." Nope, not gonna do it, honey.
  • Principle two: Customer is not always right. This isn't Burger King, so I actually do have a right to be a little bossy sometimes.

    Patient's wife: "I'm pretty sure my husband had a stroke over the weekend but he refused to get on the ambulance to go to the ER." 
    Me: "Go to ER." 
  • Principle three: Your attending doctor is always right. This is just a trick to make life simpler. With that mindset, there's less frustration.
  • Principle four: Patients seem to respond to, "I am so very sorry for your wait," so I just keep this nice phrase on hand to try to ease the tension when I first walk into an exam room.
  • Principle five: When your staff messes up with just about anything, it's always your fault. Just take the blame when you're the one calling back the patient and they usually take it a bit better coming from you. Blaming others never makes you look good.
  • Principle six: This isn't about the paycheck. I thought getting out of school would end the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, but the tsunami of loan payment hit. This is not about the paycheck. I "like" this job.  It's worth it. I "enjoy" it...most of the time.
  • Principle seven: Only a few more days until the weekend.

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