How you can prevent burnout

How you can prevent burnout

Excerpted from page 18 of the October 2015 edition of AOA Focus.

An optometric practice has many different facets—from caring for patients to handling administrative tasks to growing the business. If you aren't careful, you can get overwhelmed, which negatively affects your physical and mental health, the quality of your work, and your professional and personal relationships.

Use these tips from your colleagues to keep burnout at bay.

  1. Find your passion.
    "If you love what you do, burnout is quite rare," says Marilyn Brenne Heineke, O.D., who recently retired after practicing for 70 years in Wisconsin.

    Dr. Heineke focused on vision therapy and neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

    "These areas of optometry require a wide variety and high level of knowledge to be able to provide cutting-edge care. This was always exciting for me. I loved the challenge and the hunt to find answers for my patients," she says.

    Ryan Gustus, O.D., of Indiana, enjoys the ins and outs of running his own practice.

    "I almost consider that part my hobby because analyzing and thinking about marketing and things like that is what I enjoy."

  2. Focus on efficiency.
    "When you are in the office, maximize your time there," Dr. Heineke says. "Every spare moment not seeing patients should be spent building your expertise and improving your business. The more dollars per hour you can produce at the office gives you more freedom to spend time with your family."

    For Dr. Gustus—who has been practicing since 2011—and his partner, hiring a part-time associate has helped. That way, "I can do those practice-building things at work instead of home," he says.

  3. Set work-life boundaries.
    "Have a strict schedule for work and one for family, and stick to it. Don't let work consume so much of your time that you sacrifice family time," Dr. Heineke says. Dr. Gustus adds, "We did away with Saturday hours so that Saturdays are family time. That was a decision the whole practice made."

  4. Be flexible.
    Your setup isn't set in stone. "Early in my career, I worked with two former classmates and friends, and we balanced our work schedules," says Charles Klein, O.D., of New York.

    When he found himself taking on more of the responsibilities, he started his own practice. It was more work, but he took satisfaction in running his own practice on his own terms.

    Then, 10 years ago, he merged with another practice so he could have more free time. From mid-January to early spring, "I'm in Mexico for five weeks, back to New York for a week of work, and then back to [Mexico] for another five weeks."

October 23, 2015

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