Burnout is more prevalent than methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the Emergency Department. (1,2) It’s going to take a multi-pronged approach to solve this dilemma. In this post, I want to share one tool for you to use immediately.
It’s called VALUES. Values are what help us prioritize what we do with our lives. They help us make decisions. They help us identify the important things in life and ultimately help us measure how we are doing in life. When we live life in accordance with our values, we feel fulfilled. When our lives are not in line with our values, things feel wrong.
Now, I want you to think back to a moment in your life where you felt truly alive and grateful. A poignant time where you thought to yourself, “This is what living is about!”
What were you doing exactly? Who were you with? What did it look like? What did it feel like? What were you seeing, smelling, and hearing? Once you’ve recreated this moment in your life, think of what values you were fully expressing.
One recent experience where I felt my “cup runneth over” was off the coast of Paraty, Brazil. We had rented a boat and captain to take us around five small islands. We were heading back as the sun was setting. We had spent the day snorkeling, eating food with sand between our toes, and doing handstands on the beach. I felt blessed as I watch the green rocky, islands pass by and I looked around to see my sun-glassed friends and wife sitting contentedly. I could smell the salty ocean breeze and hear the seagulls in the distance.
When I reflect on this experience, I realized the values I was aligned with: Traveling. Being in nature. Surrounded myself with loved ones. Feeling free and unburdened. Experiencing adventures.
The more we are aware of our values, the more we can express them. Consciously or not, our values are being continuously expressed or repressed. The more we can recognize and acknowledge our values, the more we can honor them. By making plans and decisions that allow us to align with our values, the more fulfilled we can be.
And the more fulfilled we are, the more we can protect ourselves from burnout. As you know already, the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of our patients.
1. Bisaga, A. et al. “A Prevalence Study of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Colonization in Emergency Department Health Care Workers.” Annals of Emergency Medicine. November 2008 Volume 52, Issue 5, Pages 525–528 http://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(08)00611-2/fulltext
2. Takeyasu, JK. et al. “Factors Associated With Burnout During Emergency Medicine Residency.” Academic Emergency Medicine. ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2014;21:1031–1035. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1111/acem.12464/asset/acem12464.pdf;jsessionid=47E5721EC0771D2CA52E703F25597245.f04t04?v=1&t=inqjjr8r&s=7f65aed74a9f9427576a5cc2a98afd0a66798b21