Physician burnout is a major problem in the United States, and nephrologist burnout is exceptionally high, as demand for dialysis and other kidney-related treatments is on the rise. Burnout is generally described as a combination of physical and/or emotional exhaustion, feelings of ineffectiveness or lack of accomplishment, and even a loss of individual identity.
Physicians are overworked in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing economic uncertainty adds to the feelings of stress, exhaustion, and instability. Combine this with the fact that many nephrologists spend more time on paperwork than they do interacting with patients, and it’s easy to understand why so many physicians today are feeling burned out.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are solutions available today that will help you and your staff to cut down on paperwork and other administrative duties, putting valuable hours back into your day. This article will look at some of the many causes of nephrologist burnout and offer some suggestions for avoiding its effects at your practice.
What Causes Nephrologist Burnout?
Physicians have been through a lot since the start of the 2020 pandemic, and nephrologists are no exception. Studies have shown that the pandemic itself has been a significant factor in physician burnout, as physicians have had to deal with longer working hours, significant amounts of disinformation affecting public sentiment, and even incidents of patient violence. While it’s certainly enough to cause career burnout all on its own, the lingering pandemic isn’t the only adversity contributing to the recent wave of physician burnout.
Here are some other contributing factors:
Overwhelming Administrative Tasks
Nephrologists, like other healthcare professionals, didn’t pick their careers because they like filling out paperwork. And yet for every two hours of patient time, there are eight hours spent on clerical and EHR work on average. Compliance regulations, filing claims, and other necessary administrative tasks take four times the amount of time as actually interfacing with patients, which makes it easy for healthcare providers to feel like they’re facing an insurmountable pile of work.
Doctors expect to work long hours, but between heavy demand from patients, the growing time demands of administrative work, and other factors, many physicians feel like their workdays simply never end. This is a guaranteed recipe for burnout regardless of your profession, but especially so in the stressful, high-stakes field of nephrology with its many critically ill patients. Nephrologists are among the most likely of all physicians to be called in for emergency procedures outside of their normal hours, further compounding the exhaustion caused by their relentless schedules.
Poor Fellowship Experiences
Multiple studies and surveys have found that a large portion of nephrologists are dissatisfied with their fellowship experience. Along with long hours and overnight emergency calls, nephrology fellows face emotional exhaustion that comes with caring for the critically ill. Thus, many young nephrologists are beginning their careers already experiencing a level of burnout.
How to Help Counter Nephrologist Burnout
Implement New Technology
One of the easiest ways to combat burnout among nephrologists is to make use of the right technology. Remember that physicians spend four times as much time on paperwork as they do face-to-face with patients—upgrading your EHR and other software can both reduce that time and make it more enjoyable. This is especially true for nephrologists and other specialists, who are often forced to use generic software that doesn’t meet their unique needs.
Choosing a nephrology-specific EHR can help reduce the effects of burnout by making administrative work easier and more efficient. Look for a solution with integrated dialysis reporting and rounding, customizable templates, integrated lab reports, and an easy-to-use interface. Physicians spend a lot of time working with their EHR, so it’s important to find one that works the way they want it to.
Choose Quality Vendors
It’s not just important to choose the right software—you need to make sure it’s made by the right company. Look for partners with a proven track record and an active client roster. Good vendors provide quality customer support, ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations, and generally provide a stress-free experience. This last point is especially important, as nephrology is already a stressful occupation. You don’t need your vendors adding to that. Instead, your vendors should help reduce burnout by providing a reliable level of service.
They say that misery loves company, but in a working environment good company can be the best preventative of exhaustion and burnout. Office managers should work to foster an environment of respect and camaraderie, as this will help to keep office morale high. In a stressful environment like nephrology, that can make all the difference.
If you’re ready to learn more about tools and partnerships that can help prevent and decrease nephrologist burnout, get in touch with our experts today!