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Remembering to schedule time for you - Spring 2018

By Jennifer Chesak, contributing writer for the Journal of ASPR


Take quick breathers and time to fully decompress and come back stronger than ever

If you’re a physician recruiter, you’re likely not an introvert. The job requires a near-constant level of interaction with others and a go-go-go mentality. Maybe you thrive on the hectic pace most of the time and it even juices your success. But burnout is called burnout for a reason; you don’t always notice it until your drive has gone up in smoke.

“We are marketers,” says Cecilia Jerome, MBA, a physician recruiter at MidMichigan Health. “And if you’re so frustrated and beat down, it’s hard to infuse enthusiasm in your voice when you’re trying to convince someone that this is the place they need to be.”

Jerome lauds the profession for its many joys, which she says far outweigh the negatives, but she admits exhaustion can creep up. “The position can be overwhelming,” she says. “You are dealing with people, and everybody has their own vision of things.” Searching for the right prospect for the hospital group and then wooing that prospect requires a ton of matchmaking energy. “I call myself eHarmony,” Jerome jokes. Physician recruiters tend to be always on and running at high power, and they have to turn up the wattage every time a candidate comes for a site visit. “I’m being interviewed the whole time, too,” she explains. Afte-hours duties can also take their toll with logistics management and fielding late-evening calls or messages from prospects and supervisors. That’s why Jerome says taking time out in ways both big and small helps to stave off stress and fatigue, and even boosts productivity when you’re back at the grind. Here’s what she’s learned about decompression in her 15 years of physician recruiting.

Find your passions

You might take great pleasure from your work, but it shouldn’t be your only passion, or it will consume you. “Everybody has to find a way to keep smiling,” Jerome says. “And everybody has their own way of making that happen.” She loves reading murder mysteries while pounding out miles on the treadmill, which offers her both a physical release and a good escape. “I also thoroughly enjoy yelling at the TV on Sunday afternoons at the Detroit Lions—although, sometimes that can create more stress,” she jokes. Your passions outside of work will re-invigorate you and make you more enthusiastic when back on the job. Plus, they provide great topics for small talk with recruits during site visits.

Protect your off time

Whether you’re taking a vacation, a personal day, or just a short break, guard that freedom and encourage your coworkers and supervisors to respect it, too. If you’re checking email in your downtime, you’re not really present in what you’re doing or whom you’re with, Jerome says, admitting she’s guilty of this pitfall. She and her co-workers have set unofficial rules about only reaching out to a fellow recruiter who is on vacation if it’s an emergency, and even saving emails in draft folders to be sent in the days after a person returns to work. On shorter breaks, don’t be afraid to turn off notifications or even leave your phone behind so it can charge while you recharge yourself. Your break isn’t a real break if you can’t truly take the time for yourself. Being always tied to your job will leave you feeling resentful of it.

Take real vacations

Jerome suggests that physician recruiters aim for taking off at least one day a month and one full week a year if possible. “It does reenergize you,” she says, “especially if you can take that time off and not work.” That means setting an out-of-office reply on your email and not getting roped into responses that derail your relaxation.

Schedule a break

Infuse your workday with short reprieves that allow you to escape from the chaos or stress. “Walk away from the thing that’s been frustrating you and causing your eyes to cross,” Jerome says. “Do something fun.” For her, that often involves gathering a few coworkers for a walk or to get frozen yogurt or coffee. These small excursions give her a chance to share inside jokes that only her fellow physician recruiters would get or to vent. “And it’s not ‘Oh, I hate my job,’ it’s just ‘Oh, this is so frustrating,’” she explains. “I feel better, and then I can move on.”

Steer clear of negativity

If you are experiencing burnout and can’t immediately take a vacation or a day off because of a packed schedule or big project, be sure to take care of yourself in smaller ways. “There’s nothing more contagious than a bad attitude,” Jerome says. Don’t get suckered in when other people enter a constant state of complaining. Know the line between the camaraderie that goes along with good-natured venting and the bad spirits that negativity can breed. Likewise, a bit of positivity can give you a boost. Jerome recommends taking a minute to revisit your successes during stressful times. “Sometimes it’s a matter of going and talking with one of your most recent recruits who is enthusiastic about their position, and being reminded why you do what you do,” Jerome says.

Get a pet

Lastly, don’t forget the power of a pal with paws, if that’s your thing. Jerome says a greeting from her pooch is all she needs to feel better after a long day. “You come home at night and your dog just never has a bad day,” she explains. “Your dog is just thrilled to see you. You’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

© 2018 Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR). All rights reserved.
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