Beating the Burnout

I’m not well-traveled, to say the least. Until recently, It had been over 10 years since I’d stepped outside the country. COVID wasn’t to blame.The border lock-downs seemed like an eternity, but they didn’t last a decade…

For once, getting an extended period of leave was easy. Three weeks off, I didn’t quite know how to spend it.

My first thought was a quiet 'stay-cation', what with research projects on the go and the annual recruitment cycle looming. That seemed like the safe bet.

I’m glad I went the opposite route. Luckily my partner’s leave was also approved, and soon after our flights were booked, our bags packed and off we went.  Whilst I was away, I met my partner's extended family for the first time, experienced new cultures, and took a break from medicine.

Here are some of my reflections: 

Even in the early stages of our careers, the gravity of medical school, the job, and hospital life can weigh you down. You can feel trapped in your work and the endless pursuit of that next career milestone.

Our practice is often that of perfectionism, and taking a break, albeit for a short time, seems counterproductive. Holding you back are thoughts that you owe it to your colleagues to soldier on, or concerns that reaching your goals may be delayed.

Burnout is real, however, and all too often only apparent through the lens of hindsight.

Because of this, I encourage you to arrange that stretch of leave you’ve been thinking about, hang up the stethoscope, set up that ‘out of office’ email reply and truly take a break.

What waits for you on the other side will likely be greater satisfaction and productivity in what you do.    

Al Hercus 
STONZ House Officer Representative


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