July 27, 2023

Take a break: How vacations can help your practice combat burnout

Getting away from the business of running your practice for a few days gives your mind time to recharge, refresh, and revitalize, and may lead to more creative solutions and motivation.

Owning or managing a private practice comes with responsibilities, stress, and long work hours. With all the demands and pressures, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working non-stop without taking a break. Unfortunately, this can lead to burnout, which strains the professional and personal lives of leaders and employees at your practice while hindering the ability to provide exceptional healthcare for patients.

That’s why taking time off occasionally is essential — not just for your sake, but for the sake of your staff and patients. We’ll dig into what might be causing healthcare burnout at your practice and how taking — and encouraging — time off is a valuable strategy to keep your practice running efficiently.

Common causes of healthcare burnout 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion often caused by prolonged or chronic stress. It can happen to anyone but is particularly prevalent in the healthcare industry. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased burnout among physicians, which has yet to go away entirely. A study from early 2023 found that 53% of physicians feel burned out, up from 42% in 2018.

“Taking time off occasionally is essential — not just for your sake, but for the sake of your staff and patients.”

While the pandemic and evolving healthcare landscape are clear causes of this recent jump in burnout on an industry level, you must identify what precisely is causing it at your practice. Below are some common causes of burnout in physician-owned practices.

Work-life balance

Physicians who lead or own a practice often work longer hours, as they are responsible for running the entire practice. They wear multiple hats, and see patients, manage staff, handle finances and administrative work, and everything in between, which can be overwhelming. With so much to do, healthcare professionals often feel there is not enough time in the workday. According to one study, doctors would need 27 hours in the workday to complete everything. This concern often results in doctors taking work home with them, literally or mentally. 

Lack of control

In most cases, private practice owners have complete control over how their business runs, which can be positive. However, it also means they are fully responsible for any successes or failures. That burden of management can lead to overwhelming pressure and stress.

Financial pressure

Running a private practice requires a significant amount of capital investment. Managing expenses can be difficult, and the pressure to keep the practice financially viable can be high.

Practices can address this issue by using more efficient or automated tools, learning to delegate to staff members or an office manager, or consciously pursuing activities unrelated to their healthcare work. 

The benefits of taking a break

Taking the time to get away from your practice and have a break is one of the most effective ways to combat healthcare burnout. 

Every healthcare practice is different, and not all providers believe that an extended vacation away from their practice is feasible. However, there is still value in time off whenever possible. A recent study found that 87% of US workers believe long weekends reduce their stress better than longer vacations. 

There are many benefits of taking a break from the day to day at your practice.

Improved mental health

Vacations can dramatically improve mental health by reducing stress and providing much-needed relaxation. Stepping away from work for a few days and breaking up your weekly routine is a great way to allow your mind the time it needs to think about other things. Pursuing hobbies or visiting with loved ones will help provide mental clarity, increase curiosity, and refresh your perspective on your personal and professional lives.  

Better physical health

Work-related stress can also affect your physical health. It can lead to a lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and general inactivity outside of work, all of which can denigrate overall well-being. Depending on what you plan to do, vacations are an excellent opportunity to increase both rest and physical activity, helping you maintain your physical health.

Enhanced productivity

Research indicates that taking regular breaks increases focus and alleviates burnout. Getting away from your practice for a few days gives your mind time to recharge, refresh, and revitalize, and may lead to more creative solutions and motivation.

For most physicians who own private practices, work-life balance is often non-existent. Vacations can be instrumental in setting up a personal balance between work and leisure. This type of balance will allow doctors to be more productive and happy in both their professional and personal capacities.

Refreshed growth

We hope that you’re feeling inspired to take a long weekend or vacation. If you’re concerned about how doing so will affect your practice growth, Tebra products can help your practice establish greater efficiency and free up the time you’ll use to take a moment away and recharge. You’ll be surprised at how much energy you’ll have after taking some time off. And if the thought of shutting down for even one day still feels impossible? Start small: take an afternoon off every week or so until you can comfortably handle more days at once.

Free up time with automated products from Tebra