Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP, has been giving the ACEP a near-annual pep talk on burnout since the late 1990s. But the speech at this year’s meeting, “Physician, Heal Thyself: The Importance of Creating Resilience,” may be more relevant than ever, given today’s world of burgeoning electronic health records (EHR), Affordable Care Act regulations, and tightening fiscal conditions for many hospitals.
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So what’s the answer to these issues, in Dr. Kaplan’s eyes? Resiliency.
“Resilience is about keeping ourselves healthy, effectively dealing with the stressful environment that we are in every day when we work clinically, and being proactive about our wellness by paying attention to better work–life balance,” said Dr. Kaplan, ACEP President-Elect, who will give the James D. Mills Jr. Memorial Lecture at 12:30 p.m., Wed., Oct. 29 at McCormick Place.
How to get there is sometimes as simple as just recognizing the issues, he said. Emergency physicians should not only think it’s acceptable to set time aside for enough sleep and personal time—it’s absolutely necessary to stay healthy. Disconnecting from the digital world of iPhones, tablets, and social media is another good tip, otherwise when you take time off or go on vacation you never let down.
“Resilience is about keeping ourselves healthy, effectively dealing with the stressful environment that we are in every day when we work clinically, and being proactive about our wellness by paying attention to better work–life balance.”
—Jay Kaplan, MD, FACEP
For Dr. Kaplan, who is director of service and operational excellence for CEP America, another major factor is the stress of dealing with loss of life and other unexpected adverse events.
“I think emergency physicians, in particular, experience secondary traumatic stress many times a day,” he said. “If a fireman or a police officer is involved in an incident where somebody dies, they get told…to take some time off in order to emotionally work through the experience so that when they come back to work they’re prepared to deal with the present moment. For us in emergency medicine, there is no time off—it’s on to the next patient.”
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.