Avoid Burnout, Reward Yourself
Most health care professions are physically and emotionally demanding. You probably chose this profession because you want to do something meaningful and help people. Giving is a wonderful quality, but if you don't take care to renew and recharge your resources, you will soon find you have nothing left to give.
In health care you don't produce a product or other tangible goods. You don't always see the final fruits of your efforts, and you don't often receive accolades and applause for them either. In many instances you will only participate in a short segment of the health care process for a patient. You might be the x-ray technician taking the film to determine if the patient has pneumonia. Or you might be the prosthetist who fits the new leg for the patient but never sees them learn to walk again. Even nurses and doctors often don't see how their care makes a difference in someone's life except in short time frames.
Learning to find your own rewards in your professional life can be as challenging as the job itself. It is easy to see how you could become disillusioned or frustrated. It is not always easy to understand how to deal with these feelings and how to avoid them.
Burnout is a very real challenge for many health care workers. The desire to help people is usually a deeply rooted passion and it's hard to understand how that passion can die. It doesn't have to, but you do need to recognize that it is perfectly natural for all human beings to need to feel that they have a purpose and to be thanked and recognized for their efforts and help once in a while.
You also have to learn that it is okay to say no sometimes. If you need time to recharge yourself, you have nothing more to give at that moment. Don't agree to work an extra shift or to take on an extra assignment. Take care of you. If you don't, you'll allow resentments to build.
Learn to center yourself and remind yourself how and why you came to this profession. It is important to you to give and to help people. If someone doesn't seem appreciative of your help, understand that it is likely because they aren't feeling their best. That should not deter you from doing the best job you can. It's important to you. You chose to do this job and worked hard and struggled to get here. Thank yourself. Applaud your own efforts and pat yourself on the back.
If you're in management, take time to thank your employees often. They need your praise, your recognition, and your appreciation. Even if you have problem employees, you can put forth the effort to show them that they matter. This may even go a long way in improving the problems. You'll earn the respect of your employees, and your efforts will go further than you might imagine toward retention of staff. Your appreciation of others will be returned to you in many ways.
Explore Other Options
If you haven't heeded the above advice and find yourself burned out, stop and consider the options. Before you decide to give up your career entirely, explore the pros and cons of your situation. Perhaps the particular niche you're in is no longer well suited to you. Explore other options within your field. A different aspect of health care with different levels of physical and/or emotional challenges could be just what you need.
Perhaps you just need to find a new department or another employer. Be honest with yourself about why you are unhappy. Do you need to improve a set of skills? Is there a communication problem? Do you need an arbitrator or someone to intervene and resolve some issues?
Perhaps you have other skills and talents that you'd like to explore and utilize in your job. Is there another approach or opportunity where this could happen?
Sometimes a leave of absence or long vacation is in order. Sometimes simple things such as redecorating your office can help as well. Having something new to look forward to can be important in helping to cheer up your attitude.
Create Your Rewards
When something goes right, something is especially exciting, or someone actually says thank you, those are the moments you need to remember. When you recognize that your efforts helped someone achieve a goal, take credit for it. It may not be at all appropriate to run through the halls exclaiming your success, but you can reward yourself.
Start a journal and find a special box to keep it in. Write yourself a thank-you note or certificate of appreciation. Record the event on a slip of paper. If you don't have time to write in your journal, or aren't inclined to do so at all, write yourself little notes and keep them all in your special box. Take it out and review them from time to time, and especially when you are doubting yourself or feel like giving it all up. Of course, you need to be careful of confidentiality, so don't include information that would identify patients to others. Over a period of time, you'll see that you have made a difference and that your choice was a good one.
You can also set goals for yourself. Try learning new skills or conquering a fear, such as confronting a coworker who bullies you. When you achieve the goal, reward yourself with trinkets, or take yourself somewhere special. Enjoy your career and personal growth experiences.