Self-Care Suggestions to Enrich Your Locum Tenens Experiences
“Physician, heal thyself.” That saying dates back to ancient times, however, the 21st century connotation has taken on new significance as clinician burnout remains a critical concern within the healthcare industry. More than half the doctors surveyed for the 2023 Medscape U.S. Physician Burnout & Depression Report stated they are burned out on the job. And of those physicians, more than 60 percent said they’ve been experiencing symptoms for more than a year, including feeling emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations continue to invest in systemic changes to help alleviate some of the factors contributing to provider burnout. That said, there are several actions individuals can take to initiate their own self-care programs. After all, the attitude of taking care of yourself so you have the physical, emotional, and mental well-being to care for patients can be a modern rendition of “physician, heal thyself.”
Living and working away from home while on locum tenens jobs could require altering your self-care habits to accommodate the different environment and schedule. Then again, the circumstances could inspire you to try a variety of different or new self-care options. Check out the following list of ideas that easily fit into the locums lifestyle.
- Zone Out
Zoning out is a practice of letting go of one mindset to adopt a more relaxing train of thought. For example, build in a buffer time between work and home by mindfully leaving professional duties behind and focusing on an unrelated topic before tackling the next part of your day. For physicians and advanced practitioners on locum tenens assignments, letting your mind ponder whatever subjects you enjoy as a relaxation method maybe even more conducive than in the daily routine of a permanent job. Being away on assignment creates the mental and physical space to take more time to decompress after shifts because you know you’re not going to be consumed by other commitments as soon as you walk through the door of your temporary home.
- Strengthen Connections
Agreeing to practice in a variety of facilities opens the door to meeting a variety of people, on and off the job. These interactions can lead to new additions to your friend circle as well as a professional network that you call on as you move on to other assignments. Having someone (or multiple people) with whom you share good news or discuss concerns is a highly valuable mental health resource. For tips on how to nurture these relationship connections, see our blog, “How to Stay in Touch with Friends and Family During Locum Tenens Assignments.”
- Exercise Outside
Sticking to an exercise regimen is as important on locum tenens assignments as it is at home. A big difference, however, is that your environment changes, and that could present new methods and places to get physically active. Take advantage of outdoor amenities, such as hiking, biking, and running trails. Enjoy the beach, plains, mountains, and other unique features of the area while breaking a sweat. Look for seasonal activities, such as snow skiing or golfing on local courses. Feeling adventurous? Seek out chances to try something new or that you always wanted to do.
- Plan an Informal Meetup
This idea can combine Nos. 2 and 3: As you make friends on a locums job, take the initiative to arrange get-togethers or outings. If you meet someone who shares your passion for long-distance running or rock climbing, for instance, offer to train together.
- Clear Clutter
In most cases, this self-care tip applies to a home or office. Still, locum tenens professionals can adopt the mantra to streamline preparation for assignments. For example, avoid overpacking (see our blog, “Packing Tips for Your Next Locum Tenens Contract”), or convert paper documents required for credentialing and/or licensing into electronic files you can access while on contract. Here’s another suggestion: Clean your phone or tablet of old photos or files to free up space. The options for this self-care action are plentiful.
- Listen and Learn
Between travel time to and from locum tenens locations to downtime between shifts, there are opportunities to listen to your favorite podcast or audio book. Better yet, check out a new series or sign up for an online instructional program. Choose something you have a passion for or curiosity about, or that could boost a non-medical professional endeavor.
- Plan a Getaway
Locum tenens opportunities may land you in dream destinations or interesting locales you previously hadn’t considered. Either way, you’re likely to find nearby communities worthy of a visit and exploration. It can be invigorating to get out and about in a new environment on days off or after you conclude an assignment and before returning home.
- Record Your Experiences
Journaling has long been suggested as a method to privately express oneself and reflect on ideas, concerns, or experiences. However, there are also high-tech alternatives to document your experiences while on contract. If you’re comfortable on camera, video diaries serve as a great medium to archive your locums’ reflections, whether you share it with others or not.
Of course, engaging in locum tenens also can be considered a self-care choice because the ability to flex more control over your professional and personal calendars as well as travel and devote more time to patient interactions are effective practices to beat burnout.
Start your locum tenens journey with a call to an All Star Healthcare Solutions consultant today at 800-928-0229, or contact us online.