How to Avoid Absolute Frustration
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.