How to Avoid Burning Out in 2019

PERFECTIONIST'S PERIL Because many OR leaders are overachievers by nature, they are particularly prone to burnout.

You constantly feel the need to prove yourself. You ignore your own needs and personal care.

Your entire self-worth is wrapped up in your job. You always feel on the brink of physical or mental collapse. And of course, you keep these feelings bottled up inside.

If this sounds familiar, then you're probably suffering from Overwhelmed Executive Administrator Syndrome — otherwise known as burnout from physical and mental exhaustion.

Overachievers are most at risk for this condition and, as a rule, most surgery center leaders fall into this category. After all, if you're responsible for everything from challenging reimbursement issues to ever-changing regulations and accreditation standards to ensuring patient and surgeon satisfaction and reducing costs, it makes sense that you'd be an overstressed overachiever.

Not sure if you're at risk for — or currently suffering from — leadership overwhelm? We made it quick and easy to diagnose your condition. See "13 Common Signs It Is Overwhelmed Executive Administrator Syndrome" on page 11 to find out if you're guilty of the types of habits that almost always result in burnout. After that, it's probably time to make some changes. Here are a few to consider:

1 Delegate more. Chances are you can get more work off your plate than you think. Many administrators are Type A individuals who have a lot of trouble delegating tasks — and for good reason. A good number of facility leaders suddenly find themselves thrust into a leadership role after spending the bulk of their careers in the trenches, constantly expanding their skills and doing anything and everything that needed to be done. Their training is largely medically focused — not leadership-focused.

One way to decide whether you should hand something off or take it on yourself is by using a simple rule CEOs worldwide swear by: If a person can do 70% of the task in question, you should delegate it. Simple enough, right?

"If a person can do 70% of the task in question, you should delegate it."

When you do delegate to your staff, praise first and then pass off the task. You'll also want to answer the "What's in for me?" question regarding the work you're asking somebody to do. Remember, people don't ever want to feel like you're simply dumping busy work on them. If you can show the team member in question what's in it for her, chances are better she'll excel at it. Example: Before you ask a surgical tech to run point as your materials coordinator, praise her for her organizational skills and explain how the added responsibilities can advance her career.

2 Bolster your power base. Being in charge often causes leaders to believe they need to be the experts on everything. That's absolutely not the case — especially in a surgical facility. You're a part of a community of skilled, capable leaders, not an army of one. Those leaders should serve as your power base when it comes to questions to which you might not have the answers. To determine your power base, ask yourself:

  • Who knows the system and can point you to resources that can help you do your job better?
  • Who has your back?
  • Who can serve as a mentor and provide honest feedback?

Make it a point to get face time with everyone from your CFO to your scrub techs. Too often, administrators fail to spend time on the floor with staff. Putting on scrubs and getting in the trenches regularly will not only garner respect from your staff, but it could also give you fresh ideas on how to improve turnover time.

3 Consider a consultant. You've delegated everything you possibly could, you've streamlined every process you could think of and you've huddled with everyone in your power base about any time-savers you might have missed, but you're still stretched way too thin. Now what? In this case, you might need some outside help. That's where specialists and consultants come in.

For example, with the new CMS payment rule kicking in on Jan. 1, a coding specialist could be the best option to get up to speed on all the reimbursement changes in a timely manner. Other areas where specialists and consultants could save you both time and stress: accreditation, credentialing, electronic records and infection prevention.

Clear your plate, ask for backup

Once you've done an honest self-assessment, it's up to you to make some changes. While there's no way to reduce the pace and demands of your always-challenging job, making these 3 changes could help you run your facility without burning out. OSM

13 Common Signs It Is Overwhelmed Executive Administrator Syndrome

Take this 13-question self-assessment to determine if you're suffering from Overwhelmed Executive Administrator Syndrome. Ask yourself: Do I or am I ______

1. someone who can't say no?
2. believe I "do it better?"
3. have a hard time asking for help?
4. a slave to my smartphone?
5. always burning the midnight oil?
6. hold stress inside?
7. a multitasker extraordinaire?
8. someone who gets the job done at any cost?
9. believe confidence = accomplishments?
10. believe in success at the expense of myself and family?
11. take on more with fewer resources?
12. have a mind that's always racing?
13. usually thrive on stress?

If you answered "yes" to 3 or more of these questions, you're likely well on your way to burnout — if you're not suffering from it already.

— Lynette Bear, CRNA, DNP, MBA

Related Articles

September 28, 2023

There’s a significant problem in many operating rooms across the United States: Electrosurgical devices can cause significant patient burns and life-threatening fires...

September 27, 2023

At the beginning of 2021, only two U.S. states had enacted legislation mandating the use of smoke evacuation systems in every OR for every smoke-producing procedure....

Be Fundamentally Sound to Prevent Infections

One need look no further than the emerging threat from Candida auris (C. auris), a fungus that is highly resistant to drugs designed to kill it, to realize the importance...