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The 30 Second MD: Two Words I Tell Every Patient

The Real Reason Why Doctors Burn Out

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I walk into my office at 8:15 AM, down the last gulp of coffee, and logon.

Bang! A full inbox of messages is the starting gun. I make a couple of phone calls. Patients rolling in — here we go. 

Patient, patient, message, a couple of labs, patient, patient, patient, getting behind on charting, someone needs to be added, stat message (!), doctor on the phone for you, patient, patient, reviewing labs with left hand while eating lunch with right. Afternoon patients already here including one who showed up a day early, patient, patient, haven’t even gotten to sending out biopsy letters yet. Running uphill. I feel like I’m gonna bonk.

More patients, more labs, patient holding on the phone. (Oh, yeah, I forgot I still have to pee.) Down the stretch now — making a few more phone calls, finishing emails, then hanging up my white coat. I bump into my next-door colleague on the way to the parking garage. “Oh, I didn’t know you were working today.”

We can only sprint like this for a few years. Then our knees give out.

And that’s why we burn out.

Photo credit: FCC, throughmyeyesonly