The stress of daily life-and-death decisions in the emergency room can take its toll on clinicians, but hospitals can help physicians and nurses take simple steps to prevent burnout, ABC News reports.
Emergency physician Travis Stork, M.D., host of CBS' "The Doctors," offered lessons learned from his experience working in emergency departments. They include:
- Make sure clinicians take care of themselves first. Medical students are trained to work non-stop with little to no sleep. Emergency room doctors frequently worry about patients even when they aren't on the clock, he writes. But like all caregivers, ER docs and nurses need to take care of themselves otherwise they won't be able to provide necessary care to others. Eventually excess stress and sleep deprivation will take its toll. "When you have a lot of people depending on you, it's easy to think, I just don't have time to exercise, to eat a healthy breakfast, or to get enough sleep," Stork writes.
- Encourage clinicians to slow down once in a while. Working in an ED is one of the worst possible settings to let your stress overwhelm you and prevent you from making important life-and-death decisions. In those high-pressure scenarios, Stork writes, it's important that ER docs slow down and take a deep breath so they can think clearly.
- Help them remain positive. Keeping an optimistic perspective can improve an ER experience for both patients and physicians, according to Stork. "We don't get to control everything that happens to our health," he writes, "but we have a choice about how we react to the situation."
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