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Is Locum Tenens the Solution to Physician Burnout?

Is Locum Tenens the Solution to Physician Burnout?

Gallup just released its annual report on workplace engagement. The good news is that U.S. employees reported the highest level of workplace engagement in the past 14 years. The bad news? That number is still incredibly low; less than one-third of workers are engaged in their work.

Physicians often have the opposite problem. Many doctors become so engaged in their jobs that work life can quickly overshadow just about everything else, resulting in physicians who feel burned out by their careers. In fact, a 2014 Medscape study revealed that 46 percent of doctors have experienced burnout — and that number is even higher for physicians working in emergency medicine or critical care.

Just about every day, I hear about physicians who have felt so burned out that they've considered leaving medicine entirely. Luckily, I also get to speak with doctors who have used locum tenens as a remedy.

Finding boundaries

Ever since she was a little girl, physician Monica Anselmetti wanted to help people, so a career as an OB/GYN was the perfect fit. But she quickly found that the job was consuming the rest of her life. "I wanted to be there for my patients, but there were no boundaries. I was not only seeing patients in the clinic, I was on call and doing deliveries in the middle of the night, following up on surgical cases and getting calls on my cell phone," she says. "That's doable for a year or so but it wears you down after three, four, five years."

She was so worn out that she started questioning whether it was time to step away from medicine. She decided to give locum tenens a try and found that it gave her the balance she was looking for.

"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," Anselmetti says. "I can take the time I need to recover and go back to the next assignment recharged and happy to be with patients."

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