High stress and burnout aren't just risks for physicians. Providers, including the increasingly in-demand nurse practitioners and physician assistants suffer, too. Experts in healing burnout, however, have similar recommendations for all "giving" professionals subject to heavy workloads and emotional stress--becoming more mindful.
For Sandeep Lehil, a nurse practitioner treating up to 50 patients a day at T.H.E. Clinic, a community clinic in an underserved part of Los Angeles, "the only thing that keeps [her] sane" is meditating for an hour a day.
"It's like clearing your head of the anxieties and troubles you've had that day," she told the Los Angeles Times.
The worsening workforce shortage, combined with the complex medical problems of the clinics clientele are among the reasons several other NPs and PAs have left Lehil's place of employment after just a short time. After just a few weeks on the job, Lehil began experiencing headaches, which she resolved by beginning her meditation practice and moving to an apartment closer to a park where she could take walks in her free time.
Mick Krasner, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, has been teaching mindfulness to physicians for more than 12 years. He recently shared with PsychCentral his approach to "mindful communication," which he characterized as a "core competency for medical professionals."
"The entire diagnostic process rests upon the ability to bring clear communication and observation skills into the patient encounter," Krasner said in an interview. The approach, derived from his training in mindful meditation, brings clinicians together to share their experiences with conflict management, self-care, being with suffering and meaning in medicine, and encourages an "appreciative dialogue" to help clinicians recognize the personal strengths that have helped them meet such challenges so far.