SHIFTADMIN Blog

How a Good Schedule Can Reduce Physician Burnout

Posted by Shift Admin on December 26, 2017 at 6:30 AM

It is an all-too-common feeling among physicians in all specialities, practices, and regions. Burnout often happens in a busier work environment, making it feel like more and more is asked of you each time you come to work. And that expectation for you to contribute more might be why you’re also creating the schedule on top of your normal physician load.

Let’s walk through the causes and symptoms of burnout, then consider the primary ways you can manage your roles as physician and physician scheduler to avoid personal or facility burnout.

Be Aware of Causes of Burnout

According to the 2017 Medscape Lifestyle Report, bureaucratic tasks, spending too much time at work, and feeling like “just another cog in the wheel” were the top causes of physicians feeling burnt out. Add those to the need to balance additional administrative tasks (like scheduling), making time for EHRs, and the general stress of working in healthcare, and physicians can feel wiped out quickly.


As a foundational problem, burnout can be caused by the schedule. Poor schedules overwork physicians, limit adequate time-off requests, and don’t allow for restful time away. Yet how do you balance this possibility of burnout with the reality that you are the one creating the schedule?

Know Common Symptoms of Burnout

The root of burnout can cause you to feel like you’re not in control or no longer passionate about medicine. This can result in physical or emotional exhaustion, high stress, and the inability to rest. More specifically, physician burnout can show itself when providers lack resilience or are unable to recover after being on call. They begin having a negative attitude toward coworkers and patients and depersonalize their work as a physician.

Day-to-day moments of frustration or exhaustion are normal, yet symptoms of burnout can feel taxing and never-ending. If these feelings persist, begin taking steps to recover from burnout.

How to Avoid Physician Burnout

Begin with these basic steps to reverse or prevent burnout:

  • Be aware of your need to address causes and symptoms of burnout, both personally and to a team member.
  • Research shows that setting limits improves both your sense of well-being and productivity. Encourage your team of providers to stick to the schedule (not needlessly working extra), have restful time-off, and keep one another in check with the causes of burnout.
  • Create a smarter schedule. Given that burnout issues can come from feeling overworked or having a bad schedule, use a shift management software that makes the schedule fair and balanced for all shifts and providers. A software that utilizes weighted rules can balance out weekends, holidays, and on-call shifts without cumbersome manual editing and will create a fair schedule for all team members. Your entire team will appreciate a schedule creation process that’s fair and timely and you will benefit from a well-made schedule, too.
  • Provide a digital, real-time copy of the schedule and equip other physicians to put in time-off requests online.
  • Openly communicate within your team on ways the facility handles being stressed, overworked, and overtired.

Your job will be exhausting and difficult sometimes, yet medical school, residency, and your placement as a physician have shown you can adapt to situations and still be successful. When you avoid or actively prevent physician burnout, you, your family, practice, patients, and team all win. Use your role as the physician scheduler to support your team and encourage providers to actively work to prevent or reduce burnout facility-wide.

Topics: Efficient Scheduling Tips

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