By Matt Kuhrt
Medical practitioners spend all day dispensing advice on wellness, but according to an article in Forbes, a little more attention to self-care practices could be the ticket to staving off burnout.
Widespread reports of burnout combined with a suicide rate of 300 to 400 physicians per year in the United States has driven hospitals to take steps toward addressing the health of their doctors, but the results of those efforts have been mixed, according to previous reporting in FiercePracticeManagement.
Healthcare workers have an understandable tendency to prioritize the health and welfare of their patients above their own, says Margaret M. Hansen, Ed.D., a registered nurse who is a professor of nursing at the University of San Francisco. "It takes self-discipline, motivation and self-permission to carve out the time to mindfully do self-care activities," she says.
Hansen has adopted her own routine of periodic breaks for stretching and scheduled time for both physical activities and meditation, and admits to a particular interest in the positive effects of exposure to nature on one's mental well-being. She also seeks to reach undergraduate nursing students through a proposed course advocating a "holistic approach" to wellness based on a model developed by Dr. Bill Hettler of the National Wellness Institute that encompasses "physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and occupational balance."
In addition to improving the work lives of individual nurses, Hansen sees potential for a "domino effect" in which healthcare professionals act as role models, thereby passing effective self-care habits on to fellow healthcare workers, as well as patients, family members, and the general public.