The Real Cost of Burnout


Recently, a comprehensive study was conducted to discover burnout rates among Doctors of Chiropractic. The results were shocking and unprecedented.

48% of the DCs surveyed were undergoing burnout. That’s almost half! In addition, 21% of them reported extreme emotional exhaustion.

These rates are unprecedented to say the least. But that’s not all, it turns out that these burnout rates have been increasing over time. Between 2011 and 2014, the rates had jumped by an average of 10%.

However, the danger of burnout isn’t limited to DCs alone.

Professional helpers, CAMs, and all health & wellness professionals are vulnerable. Just last year, the Mayo Clinic published a shocking study that found burnout rates among health & wellness practitioners exceeded 50%. It too, like the previous study, showed how the problem is significantly getting worse.

There are many, many more studies corroborating these findings, but I think you get the point. The sad reality tells us that burnout rates in our profession have become a full-blown epidemic. 

But what exactly is burnout? What are its symptoms and impacts? Lastly, what are the best ways of overcoming burnout in a practice and transitioning to a successful life? These are the questions this blog answers and I’d love to hear any questions or feedback you may have about overcoming burnout in practice.

Burnout – Definition and Symptoms

In general, burnout is experiencing complete physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion in long-term highly demanding situations. There are lots of symptoms when it comes to burnout and these may include:

  • Decreased passion for your profession
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low energy levels
  • Being annoyed by your patients rather than wanting to helping them
  • Being impatient with employees
  • Always feeling edgy and pressured
  • Being impatient with your spouse (I know what you’re thinking – this may not necessarily be due to burnout!)
  • Task overload
  • Rapid work pace

Sadly, the list can go on and on!

The Impacts of Burnout

Professional Life

In your professional life, burnout affects your quest to build a successful practice and transforms it into a sweatshop hurrying to treat patients as quickly as possible. The quality of your patient relationships nosedive since you’re forced to spend very little time with them. You’re also too emotionally spent to build genuine relationships.

Moreover, the quality of your treatment decreases since time becomes a rare commodity. You also lack the drive and motivation necessary to give your patients 100%.

Perhaps the most noticeable impact of burnout on your profession is the complete lack of passion. Your once-loved profession has now become a huge burden and you begin having doubts about building your practice or even getting into the profession.

Undoubtedly, you began the profession wholeheartedly-devoted to the wellness and care of your patients. It is ironic and surprising that the pendulum now swings to the other extreme. You go to work anxious and stressed. You find your patients bothersome. And your energy levels sink.

However, burnout doesn’t just impact your professional life. As you already know too well, your personal life is greatly affected.

Personal Life

When it comes to your personal life, you simply don’t have one! You’ve become so absorbed in your practice that you have no time for the things or people you love. You may not even remember what are those things that once gave you pleasure in life because it’s been so long!

More importantly, you have no time to take care of yourself. You’re too caught up in building a successful practice that you’ve begun neglecting your own health.

The impact that burnout has on your professional and personal life becomes a reinforcing phenomenon and causes everything in your life to go into freefall.

This is not a way to live your life. But overcoming burnout in your practice is easier said than done. You’ve already asked yourself, “How can I reverse this cycle? How can I achieve the life I want while maintaining a healthy balance?”

To answer this question, you must first understand why these high burnout rates exist.

Failed Conventional Models – The Main Factor in High Burnout Rates

Quite simply, the main reason behind high burnout rates in our profession is the conventional model of running a practice.

Convention tells us that a successful practice is a high-volume practice. If your appointment book is not fully scheduled for the entire day, then you’re doing something wrong. If you don’t use all the resources at your disposal to build your ‘successful’ practice then you’re not on the right track.

You constantly hear the expression ‘You’re either all the way in, or you’re not.’ So we’re told we must work long hours to build a successful practice. That means most practices are open for very long hours including weekends.

Another convention of a high-volume practice means we should supposedly market to anyone and everyone, that we should accept all types of customers since that means more money, right?

But what the conventional model resulted in? Ridiculously long hours, making less than we deserve, far too many patients, and simply feeling like just another cog in the system, feeling like we’re only ‘existing’ and not ‘living.’
Earlier this year, Medscape published a report on Burnout and Bias, two important factors affecting the lifestyles of health & wellness professionals. In this report, they referred to the dire effects of burnout. See for yourself:



Can you relate!?

This is the result of the conventional model. It has completely failed us and has resulted in epidemic rates of burnout, turnover, depression, anxiety, stress and more. But what to do?

Overcoming Burnout in your Practice 

Here are the steps you should take to overcome burnout in your practice:

  1. Buck convention
  2. Change your mindset
  3. Define your lifestyle
  4. BUILD your lifestyle

1. Buck convention!

To overcome burnout in your practice, the first step is understanding how to step out of the box and take a different approach. This means you must buck the conventional way of running your practice.

But convention doesn’t just tell us how to build our practices. It also brings out the naysayers  and critics who will undoubtedly try to keep you bogged down into the ‘conventional’ way of doing things.

It is imperative that you ignore these people! Don’t give their critique any value and, more importantly, don’t let fear of the unknown control you. The status quo has not been working for you so it only makes sense to use a different approach.

The point is, you must stop hanging on to the conventional way of building your practice or else stay stuck in old ways.

2. Change your mindset!

Your beliefs shape you. They guide your thoughts, decisions, and actions. And the wrong beliefs are destructive to your mindset and your practice. Here, you must identify any negative beliefs that are holding you back and remove them once and for all.

Examples include:

  • Believing you’re not good enough to build a successful practice
  • Telling yourself you must work long hours to grow your practice
  • Avoiding the things and people you love since you ‘must’ put everything into your practice

These are just some examples. Find out what your head trash is, and eliminate them once and for all!

3. Define the lifestyle YOU want

Now that you’ve removed self-limiting beliefs, you have a clean slate to work from. Here, you can begin thinking about the lifestyle you really want. Think deeply about this life. Picture it in your mind. What does it look like? Does it look like your life now? Probably not.

Here, you can list certain goals of the lifestyle you seek. Examples include:

  • I want to work a maximum of 5 hours/day
  • No work on weekends
  • I want to run my practice with only certain patients (e.g. pregnant mothers)
  • I want my afternoons/evenings to be spent with family
  • I want time to travel for one week per month

Whatever lifestyle elements you want to include, list them! This way, you have a vision to build from.

 4. BUILD your lifestyle practice!

Once you have your lifestyle vision, you can now create a strategy to build this lifestyle. The key to doing this is to build your practice around your lifestyle, not the other way around!

Understand: to overcome burnout in your practice and build the lifestyle you want, your happiness must come first. You must put your needs first which leads to a more effective practice, more satisfied patients, and a more engaged YOU.

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I’d love to hear from you! What can you change to put your life FIRST, so you can create a better balance in your practice?

Post your comment below.


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