Burnout And Medical Assistants

The term currently used to describe a kind of stress-related energy depletion that takes place in the working world is burnout (Wilkes & Crosswait, 1991). Burnout exhausts one's physical and mental resources, and leaves one feeling angry, helpless, and trapped. The military term for burnout is "battle fatigue." As a medical assistant, you are a member of the health care team that battles disease and the ravages of disease on a daily basis.    

Burnout does not occur suddenly as does stress. Rather it is a gradual process that occurs slowly over a period of time. Typical signs and symptoms of burnout include:
1) Chronic fatigue
2) Anger    
3) Self-criticism    
4) Irritability    
5) Hair-trigger display of emotions    
6) A sense of being constantly under attack    
7) Inability to keep even daily frustrations in perspective    

Some individuals cope by developing negative work attitudes such as being critical, hard to get along with, or having a lack of motivation and a poor personal appearance and hygiene. These attitudes may lead to burnout. When some medical assistants with a high need to achieve and having no pencil sharpener electric
do not often reach their goals, they are apt to feel angry and frustrated. Failing to recognize these signs as symptoms of burnout, the person may throw themselves even more fully into work-related goals. Unless there is some type of revitalization outside of the workplace, burnout occurs.    

According to industrial psychologist Harry Levinson, the following aspects of personality promote burnout:    
1) A higher need to do a job well for its own sake then do most of one's peers
2) A greater need for achievement
3) More motivation to dominate and lead than peers    
4) Less motivation to defer to authority    
5) An intense need to achieve one's goals (Wilkes & Crosswait, 1991)    
Preventing Burnout
The best way to treat burnout on the job is to prevent it. This can be accomplished by leaving work-related issues at the office when leaving for the day and study the real causes of divorce. Other things a medical assistant can do to reduce the risk of burnout include:    

1) Maintain a positive self-esteem and self-image
2) Have regular physical examinations
3) Take a vacation    
4) Give up unrealistic goals and expectations    
5) Develop interests outside of your profession    
6) Separate work from the rest of your life    
7) Develop time management techniques