Reverse Burnout: Rediscover Your Mojo

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“Good, good, good . . . good vibrations.” Remember when you used to sing that ditty in the shower as you got ready for work? Now, you’re trying to come up with a plausible excuse to call in sick, which is tough if you’re the boss or the only pharmacist on duty that day.

If excuse fabrication is a recurring morning ritual, you may be suffering from mental and physical burnout. Pharmacist, heal thyself. Burnout is real and if not treated can lead to a host of physical conditions, including exhaustion, alienation from work-related activities, loss of appetite and insomnia. According to an article in Pharmacy Times, “Burnout can also lead to psychosomatic illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue. Metabolic syndrome – the cluster of conditions that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke and weight gain – can aggravate depression and other psychosomatic illnesses and cause them to spiral out of control.”1

MindTools®, an online career-building resource, offers a test to help you informally check yourself for career burnout. To take the self-test, visit www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_08.htm.

Tackling Burnout

Tackling burnout is like losing weight; it’s a slow and steady process that requires both a lifestyle change and an attitude realignment. For some, an extreme measure might mean a career change or a different avenue to use their pharmacy education. However, most pharmacists enjoy the patient interaction their job entails; they find meaning in the service that originally steered them into pharmacy. An online summit, conducted by Alex Barker, Pharm.D., revealed the underlining root of discontent is that pharmacists believe their jobs have become unmanageable.2 This could be due to increased regulations, legislation and patient responsibilities accompanied by decreased profits.

These few steps can help you begin your journey back to satisfying productivity:

  • Think about why you’re suffering from career burnout. Explore any negative feelings you have towards your role, and be specific. Example: I love working with my patients, but I abhor how legislation ties my hands when it comes to running my business. One article suggests using the 5 Whys approach to get to the root of a problem.3
  • Once you discover the root issues causing your burnout, start reorganizing your workflow to eliminate or delegate those responsibilities to others. If you are not in the position to delegate, discuss the issue with your boss to help alleviate your stress, which could produce a more positive work environment.
  • Pay attention to your body, exercise and get a good night’s sleep. Practice yoga, go swimming or take a long walk. Break your routine.
  • Take a vacation or leave of absence. Identify or reassess your goals, and construct a personal mission statement. Then, craft your job to better fit your lifestyle. This could mean changing the way you look at your role.
  • Say “no,” politely and often.
  • Be positive. Burnout is associated with depression, which colors everything negatively. Experiment with this exercise: Every morning, before you get out of bed, think of one positive thought, and say it aloud. Then, when you go to bed, think of one positive thing that you did that day at home or work, and say it aloud as well.4

It’s a Process

Rediscover why you became a pharmacist in the first place. Don’t let outside demands take away the value, meaning and joy of what you worked so hard to achieve. Pharmacists hold one of the most trusted positions in our society. Every patient who seeks your advice values your expertise and experience.

Rediscover your enthusiasm, pass it on to your peers and share your “good, good, good … good vibrations.”


1,2 Barker, Alex. Pharm.D. Burned Out Pharmacists: Understanding the Job’s Negative Health Effects. Pharmacy Times. Oct. 01, 2017. Web. 14 Nov 2017. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/alex-barker-pharmd/2017/10/burned-out-pharmacists-understanding-the-jobs-negative-health-effects

3 MindTools. 5 Whys: Getting to the Root of a Problem Quickly. N.d. Web. 14 Nov 2017. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_5W.htm

4 MindTools. Recovering From Burnout: Finding Passion for Your Roll Again. N.d. Web. 14 November 2017. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/recovering-from-burnout.htm

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