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How Working Locum Tenens can Reduce Surgeon Burnout

By Thomas Gole, DO, FAAFP10 Aug 2016

working-locum-tenens-reduce-surgeon-burnout.jpgYou struggle to get yourself to the hospital for your shift. You’re not as engaged with patients and your peers as you once were. You might even find yourself dealing with feelings of anxiety and depression. You’re likely suffering from burnout, and like over half of your colleagues, you’re not alone.

Over 50 percent of surgeons report feelings of burnout. Researchers also found that rates of burnout among surgeons increased between 2013 and 2016, with female surgeons experiencing burnout more often than their male colleagues.

What’s causing burnout?

Too many bureaucratic tasks, spending too much time at work, difficult patients, decreased job satisfaction — feeling like just a cog in a wheel — were all cited by surgeons as the top reasons they felt burned out.

How working locum tenens could be a solution for physician burnout

If you’re dealing with feelings of burnout, working as a locum tenens surgeon could give you a much needed change of scenery and present you with new, exciting challenges. A surgical locum tenens position can reduce burnout because it:

  • Is a temporary position that comes with a firm start and end date, which can give you more flexibility, and more varied experiences. Additionally, having concrete end and start dates gives you time to adequately prepare for (and rest and recover from) your assignments.
  • Exposes you to diverse work environments and groups of patients you may not otherwise experience.
  • Gives you the chance to travel or the flexibility to enjoy more time for family, friends or hobbies.

Before doing locum tenens work, Dr. Monica Anselmetti felt like leaving medicine. But for like many physicians, the benefits stated above made a huge impact.

“The beauty of locum tenens is that I work really hard at an assignment for a couple weeks or a month. I may be tired at the end of it, but I know that I’m going to have a break,” Dr. Anselmetti told Physician’s Weekly. “I can take the time I need to recover and go back to the next assignment recharged and happy to be with patients.”

Why are your peers doing locum tenens work?

In addition to reducing burnout, physicians reported they chose locum tenens work because it enabled them to:

  • “Test-drive” a job: If you’re considering a new position, locum tenens is a good way to experience new facilities and locations without having to permanently commit to a position.
  • Improve skills: The exposure to different patient populations and different subspecialities of your new peers, can add to your knowledge.
  • Have mentorship opportunities: While you may have considered mentoring medical students, have you thought about being the mentee? Not only can you improve your skills while working a locum tenens position, you can also find mentorship opportunities to learn from and network with your peers.

If you’re feeling the effects of your job, try taking these steps to reduce surgeon burnout and consider trying a locum tenens position. The change in scenery, exposure to new facilities and co-workers might be just the cure you need.

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